A few weeks ago, I was featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article that had to do with how to go about making the decision to move your aging parents in with you!
In today’s episode, I take it a step further and share tips for moving your aging parents (or in-laws) in with you AND I talk about pros and cons to help you really think about this decision!
Today, I wanted to walk you through...
Sometimes, crisis strikes and you have to act fast. But, if you’re considering this move and there is no crisis, really take the time to think it through and be mindful each step of the way. This includes many conversations with your spouse and children. And, even many conversations with your parents (if they’re able). Maybe even conversations with your siblings. I’ll be sharing tips next week on how to talk with your partner about moving your parents in with you, so be on the lookout for that episode!
Who will pay for what? Will the parents pay for utilities? Will they pay rent? Then, discuss How things will be paid for? Will it be an automatic transfer, will they pay some of the bills on their own. List everything out and come up with a fair plan. It’s best if financial expectations are communicated clearly and honestly up front. Nobody likes to be caught off guard, especially with money! Of course, things will change- every household’s finances change over time, but this will at least help to give you a starting point and set you up for having conversations about money down the road.
If you decide that your parents will move in with you, It can help at the outset to have a conversation with all adults in the home about something like, “we are going to do our best to make this work, though there may come a time, that even with the best intentions, it’s not working, and if that time comes, it will help to have a back up plan”. Having a discussion about a backup plan in the beginning may make it easier down the road if the living situation needs to change.
A change in living situations often arises when the aging parent needs more care than the family can provide, or needs more supervision to keep them safe (like if the person is wandering with dementia, or if they become agitated, or if the physical needs are too great for the caregiver, like if they need to be lifted, etc). Back up plans don’t have to mean moving your aging parents into a completely new location. It may include bringing in help to assist your parents like with home health aides or having your parents go to day programs during the day (if needed).
These can include house quiet times, how meals will be handled, if house guests can be accommodated, who will pay for the meals if your parents invite guests, family vacations, what can be redecorated, and so on. All right, let’s pause here a minute. You might be thinking, Really? House rules? This isn’t college. And, my answer to this is yes! You’d be surprised how many conflicts arise when these items are NOT clear up front.
If you have other people, like children, living in the home, prepare them ahead of time. Let children know that grandparents will be moving in and how things will be a little different. Keep the mood bright and hopeful. Talk about the some of the changes, and also of the benefits of having grandparents live with you!
Adjusting to your parents moving in with you will take time. This is a big emotional and practical change and is hard on even the healthiest of families. So, be patient with yourself, your partner, your children, and even your parents.
This is a huge change and a big adjustment. Because of this, it can help to limit other big life changes (even positive ones), like a career change, or starting a start-up during this initial adjustment phase. Sometimes, its not possible to prevent other big life changes, but if you can limit other stressful changes in your life, do it! For example, If you have a choice on the timing of moving aging parents in with you, you may not want to do it at the same time your scheduled for knee surgery, or at the same time your kids are starting middle school.
Depending on the care needs of your aging parents, it can turn out to be more than you signed up for. Depending on your stage of life and your own personal goals, dreams, or wishes, you may have other priorities in your life. You may find that your aging parents have care needs that interfere with plans for your own life and finding a way to integrate the needs of your parents with needs and wishes for your own life can be really tough! If the arrangement isn’t going well, if there is a lot of struggle and conflict, or if the caregiving tasks are more than you signed up for, this struggle can lead to resentment and strain in your family.
It can be an incredibly rewarding experience living with aging parents in their final phase of life. You may become closer with your parents than any other time in your life. You may find many tender moments that you will cherish for the rest of your life. In fact, many people say that it was the hardest promise they ever kept... and they would do it again.
Let me share a couple of examples of caregivers sharing their experience with caring for their aging parents.
The New York Times recently published an article entitled, I Put My Own Life on Hold’: The Pain and Joy of Caring for Parents, in this article caregivers from around the US and Canada were quoted:
In wrapping up, I wanted to validate that moving your aging parents in with you is a very complex and wide ranging emotional experience, and this is where taking the time to plan and care for yourself needs to be a top priority!
If you’re facing this possibility with your aging parents, please take the time to care for yourself! The more grounded you are, the more compassion and care you'll have to give to others!
I talk about self-care and so much more in my freebie the Ultimate Caring for Aging Parents Checklist! Download it here or by clicking the image below! It will really help!
And don’t forget to share this video with your friends who are caring for their aging parents. Because nobody should have to do this caregiving-thing alone!
See you next Wednesday where I’ll talk about why moving aging parents in with you is so complicated!
Lots of love to you and your family!
Dr. Regina Koepp
PS: Here's a link to the Chicago Tribune article that I was featured in!
Check out these related episodes:
The New York Times (Sept 2019): ‘I Put My Own Life on Hold’: The Pain and Joy of Caring for Parents"
I'm a Stanford trained, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist specializing with older adults and families! I'm an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and a staff Psychologist working with older adults and families at the Atlanta VA Health Care System. I'm a mom of two little kids and a daughter to aging parents.
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