A few weeks ago, I was featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article that had to do with how to go about the decision to move your aging parents in with you. In today's episode, I take it a step further and talk with you about if you do decide to move your aging parents or in-laws in with you. What kind of plans to consider and I talk about the pros and cons for you to think about.
Hello there I am Dr. Regina Koepp and this is the caring for aging parents show. I'm a board certified clinical psychologist and I specialize in older adults families. I help you manage the most complicated situations with your aging parents so that you have peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything you can to help your parents live their best lives without giving up your own life in the process.
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As we get started, I wanted to share a helpful freebie that I made just for you called the Ultimate Caring for Aging Parents Checklist. Take a minute to download it. It'll really help you out. Okay.
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.
Today I wanted to walk you through seven items to consider if you're in the process of deciding to move your parents or in laws and with you.
Number One, take your time with this move and lay a roadmap. So sometimes crisis strikes and you have to act fast. But if you're considering this move and there's no crisis, really take the time to think it through and be mindful each step of the way. So this includes many conversations with your spouse and your children, even many conversations with your parents, if they're able, and maybe even conversations with your siblings. I'll be sharing tips next week on how to talk with your partner about moving your parents (or -in-laws) in with you. So be on the lookout for that episode!
Number Two, be clear on how finances will be managed. Who will pay for what? Will your parents pay for utilities? Will they pay rent? Then talk about how they'll be paid for - will there be an automatic transfer? Will they write you a check? Will some of the bills be in their own name? List everything out and come up with a fair plan. It's helpful if financial expectations are communicated clearly and honestly upfront. Nobody likes to be caught off guard, especially with money. Of course, things are gonna change over time. Every household's finances change, right? But this will at least help you to have a starting point and set you up for having conversations about money down the road.
Number Three is to have a backup plan. If you decide that your parents will move in with you, it can help at the outset to have a conversation with all of the adults in the home about something like, "okay, we're 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 backup plan." So having a discussion about a backup plan in the beginning will make it easier down the road if the living situation needs to change. Okay. So a change in living situation often arises when the aging parent needs more care than the family can provide for or needs more supervision to keep them safe. Like if the person has dementia and they're wandering or if they become agitated, or if the physical needs are too great for the caregiver, like the person needs to be lifted, but the caregiver can't do that. So backup plans don't have to mean moving your aging parents into a completely new location. It might include bringing in someone to assist your parent, like with a home health aide or having your parents go to a day program during the day if you need it.
Number Four is to come up with house rules. So these can include house quiet times, how meals will be handled. If house guests will be accommodated, who will pay for the meals for house guests? Family vacations, what in the home can be redecorated, and so on. Okay, so let's pause here a minute. You might be thinking really house rules?! Are you serious? I mean, this isn't college. And my answer to this is yes, house rules. You'll be surprised at how many conflicts arise when these items are not clear upfront.
Number Five- if you have other people in the home, like children, prepare them ahead of time. So let kids know that grandparents will be moving in and let them know how things will be different. Keep the mood bright and hopeful and talk about some of the changes and also the benefits of having grandparents live with you.
Number Six is to give yourself some space and grace to adjust. Adjusting to your parents moving in with you will take time. This is a big emotional and practical change and it's hard on even the healthiest of families. So be patient with yourself. Be patient with your partner, your children, and even your parents.
Number Seven is try to limit other stressful life changes during this adjustment phase, if you can. So this is a huge change and a big adjustment. And because of this, it can help to limit other big life changes. Even positive ones, like a career change or starting a startup during this adjustment phase. Sometimes though it's not possible to prevent other big life changes, but if you can limit other stressful changes, then do it. So for example, if you have a choice on the timing of moving your aging parents and with you, you might not want to do it at the same time you're scheduled for knee surgery, right? Or at the same time your kids are starting middle school. These are really tough adjustment times - after a medical procedure or when your kids are starting a new phase in their life.
Now I want to talk about some of the pros and cons to moving your parents in with you.
Let's start with the cons. We'll end on a positive note. So depending on the care needs of your aging parents, it can turn out to be more than you sign up for. Depending on your stage of life and your own personal goals, dreams, wishes you may have other priorities in your life and you might find that your aging parents have care needs that interfere with plans for your own life. Then finding a way to integrate the needs of your parents with your own needs and wishes for your own life can be really tough. If the arrangement isn't going well and if there's a lot of struggle or conflict, or the caregiving tasks are more than you signed up for. This struggle can lead to resentment and strain in your family.
Okay, now let's talk about the pros. So 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 during any other time in your life with them. You may find tender moments that you will cherish for the rest of your life. And in fact, many people say that it was the hardest promise they ever kept and they would do it again.
I want to share with you a couple of examples of people caring for their aging parents. The New York times recently published an article called, "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, and I'm going to share a couple of these quotes with you. Here's a quote from Suzanne Burke in Savannah, Georgia. "I moved back home and took care of my parents for four years until they died four months apart. They were wonderful people and I don't regret it, but I put my life on hold, including professionally and had to start over from nothing in my thirties."
And here's another from Mary McKim from St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. "After my mom had a stroke, I cared for her 24/7 until she died in her own home two years later. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life, but my mom and I had many moments of enjoyment, being together. We laughed, we cried. We were closer than ever before."
In wrapping up, I wanted to validate that moving your aging parents in with you is a really complicated and wide ranging emotional experience. This is where taking the time to plan and care for yourself and your own needs really needs to be a top priority. So 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 can give to others.
I talk a lot about self-care and so much more and my freebie, the "ultimate caring for aging parents checklist". So download it now. It will really help.
And don't forget to share this video with your friends who are caring for their aging parents, because nIobody should have to do this caregiving-thing alone.
Lots of love to you and your family. I'll see you next Wednesday where I'll talk about what to do if you and your partner don't agree on moving your aging parents in with you.
Bye for now.
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