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For many of us, there comes a time when we realize that our parents should no longer live alone. They may need to move into a different living situation because of health reasons, financial reasons or simply because their current home has become too large for them to manage on their own. Adult children want the best for their parents and sometimes they assume that moving their mother or father into their own home is the best solution. But is it? Consider some of the following issues before you make this decision.
Your parent may wish to move in with you or perhaps it is you who thinks having your parent at home will be better or more convenient than any other option. Remember that there are other options to explore as well. If your parent is healthy, independent living facilities offer socialization activities and have every amenity imaginable. Assisted living facilities have healthcare options to address your parent’s various medical needs. Skilled nursing homes provide another option. Some people choose to stay in their own homes and address their needs by bringing in home nursing care.
Consider the dollars and cents side of having your parent move into your home. First, do you have the space? You may need to add a bedroom or a bathroom to accommodate an extra adult in the house. Are your doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair if necessary? Think about the expense of adapting your home with ramps, bathroom safety bars and other changes that will make it more comfortable for your parent. Perhaps the sale of your parent’s residence can help to fund any additions needed to your home. It’s possible that you may need to reduce your work hours and your income in order to address your parent’s needs. The cost of medical care, additional food and clothing costs all need to be considered. If you pay for more than half of your parent’s expenses, you may be able to claim him as a dependent on your income taxes.
The sudden loss of privacy, for you and your family and for your parent, can be a very stressful adjustment. The energy and time it takes to care for your parent can be draining and will mean you have less energy and time for other family members. Children and spouses can become resentful if you have to devote all your time to your parent. Do you have the expertise to take adequately take care of their medical needs? Being the sole caretaker can be emotionally draining. Seek out clubs and senior organizations to help your parent socialize. Bring in a nurse or companion occasionally to give you free time and a chance to recharge.
If you have siblings and your parent moves into your home, you should not be the only one responsible for the financial burden the move may cause. Siblings can support you as your care for your parent no matter where they live or how busy they are. Don’t hesitate to share the bills with your siblings or to help them understand how else they can help. If they live nearby, they can provide company for your parents on the weekend, take them on outings or to doctor’s appointments or bring a meal as a way to give you a break. If you live too far away for them to visit frequently, request financial support or ask that they take your parent for vacations.
We all want the best for our parents, but you may want to seek professional advice before agreeing to have a parent move in. Consider the economic and emotional effects on your entire family before making this life-altering decision.