Changing Places: Should Your Parents Move in with You?
Lisa’s mother, Ruth, has been living alone since her father died five years ago. Ruth has been active at church and eats lunch at the local senior center a couple of times a week. Lisa does the food shopping, takes Ruth to doctors’ appointments, and has her over to her house for dinner, usually once a week.
Lisa has begun to notice, however, that when she is at her mother’s house, it is not as clean as it used to be. Several times lately she’s noticed a pile of dishes and a burned saucepan in the sink—something her mother would never have done before. The other day she saw a bright green envelope on the dining room table, which was a notice that the utility bill had not been paid.
Slowly, Lisa has begun to think that her mother may have problems with her memory, and may not be able to live safely at home alone any more. Having always been close to her mother, she had assumed that her mother would eventually come live with her. But now Lisa has to think about what that would mean.
Making the decision to move a parent into your home is not necessarily as clear-cut as it would seem. A number of situations and questions arise that need addressing. FCA’s Family Consultants suggest that it is helpful to consider these issues before the move is made:
- How will I talk to my mother about moving?
- How do my spouse and children feel about moving Mother into our home, and how will it change our lives together?
- What things will be easy for us to negotiate in living together, and what things will be hard?
- What are the limits of my ability to care for Mother at home, and what if I have to put her in a nursing home?
- How will my siblings feel, and how much help will they give me in caring for Mother?
- Will her friends come to visit her at my house, or will she be dependent on me for all her socializing?
- What are my needs for privacy and alone time?
Adapting Your Home
- Where will Mother sleep—in my daughter’s room, convert the den, build an addition?
- What assistive devices do I need—grab bars in the bathroom, raised toilet seat, ramps, etc.?
- Does Mother smoke or drink, and will that be a problem for me?
- Does Mother have a pet that will be coming with her, and how will I cope with caring for it?
- What will the financial arrangement be? Should I charge rent? Will I have expenses for her to cover?
- How will my siblings feel about the financial arrangement?
- Will my work situation have to change, and if so, how will I cover the bills?
- Will Mother need care during the day, and if so, how will it be provided?
- How will I juggle my job, childcare responsibilities, marriage, and taking care of Mother?
- When in my day will I be able to make the phone calls needed to make arrangements for Mother?
- When will I have time for myself?
- How comfortable am I with helping Mother bathe or changing an adult’s diaper?
- Do I know what to expect over time as Mother’s condition changes?
- How is my health, and will I be able to take care of myself as well as my mother?
- Am I willing to accept respite care to get a break?
Every family situation is different. If you are facing these questions, a Family Consultation with one of FCA’s professional staff can help you sort out the pros and cons of such a move and provide information and resources to make things easier for you and your family. Call us at (800) 445-8106.
This tip sheet was prepared by Family Caregiver Alliance. ©2012 Family Caregiver Alliance. All rights reserved.