It’s a situation many of us will face: Our parents are getting older and in time they will not be as active, mobile, or acute as they once were. For some Americans, the solution is to invite their aging parents to move into their homes. The number of older people living with adult children has increased in recent years, and up to a quarter of carers live in the same house as the people they care for.
There are many benefits to moving aging parents into your home. You and your family can enjoy a close and caring relationship with your parents during their autumn years. Elderly people often suffer from social isolation, and a mixed-age household helps them stay active. And it’s often easier and more convenient to care for an elderly parent when they live in the same place.
But it’s not all upside. Before you move an aging parent into your home you should be sure that you, your parents, and your family are ready. It’s a big change, and it can be stressful, so it’s worth taking the time to make plans and lay the groundwork.
Factors to Consider Before Moving Your Aging Parent
Before moving day, you should make sure you understand all the implications of what you are about to do. If needs and expectations aren’t aligned, what might have been an enjoyable time can quickly become stressful.
Is your house a suitable home for your parent?
The first question: Where will your parent stay and is your home suitable for a person of their age and condition? If the only spare room in your house is an attic or basement room accessed by stairs, you may have to move the house’s other residents—something that can cause resentment and resistance.
Here are some questions you should consider before deciding to move your parents in:
- If they are a wheelchair user, are the doorways and hallways wide enough?
- Does the space you have in mind provide the quiet, privacy, and comfort your elderly parent might expect?
- Are there sufficient bathroom facilities for an extra person, and are they suitable for someone of your parent’s mobility and strength?
- Is your house close enough to services and facilities your parent uses?
How much support and care does your parent need?
Support and care needs vary widely depending on your parents’ age and condition. Are you willing and able to take on the responsibility of caring for them? Do you have the time? Are you able to accommodate their needs alongside your other work and family responsibilities?
Your parent may require no care at all. Or they might need some help getting about and making food. Or they might need help dressing, bathing, using the toilet, and more. In some cases, you may also need to make space for a professional caregiver. You should ensure that you have a good understanding of your parent’s needs to help you to avoid stressful and even potentially dangerous situations.
What are the financial implications of living with your parents?
Your financial outgoings are likely to increase when your parent moves in, and this is often a source of contention between adult children and their parents. Although it might be uncomfortable, you should try to clarify the financial arrangements and what both you and they will be expected to contribute.
Preparing Your Home, Your Family, and Your Aging Parent
You have considered the pros and cons, and you have decided to ask your parents to move in with you and your family. It’s now time to start on the practical steps towards a stress-free move that minimizes disruption for everyone involved.
Modifying your house for your elderly parents
You may have to make some modifications to your parent’s future room and your house. The goal is to make the space as safe and comfortable for them as possible.
Common modifications include:
- Fitting railings to stairs, or a stairlift if your parent has mobility limitations.
- Ensuring that there is adequate lighting.
- Adapting the bathroom—particularly the shower and toilet—so that they are accessible to an elderly person.
- Decluttering. Three million people require hospital treatment every year for fall-related injuries. Falls can be devastating for elderly people, so you should remove as many tripping hazards as possible.
- In addition to decluttering, you may also need to fit threshold ramps so that your parent can move about the house safely.
If your parent uses a wheelchair, you may also need to widen hallways and doorways and lower kitchen worksurfaces.
Obtaining medical and mobility equipment
You should discuss with your parent whether they need mobility assistance or medical equipment. We mentioned stairlifts in the previous section, but they could also benefit from:
- A bath lift to help them get into and out of the bath. You might also consider fitting a walk-in bath or shower.
- A home hospital bed. Adjustable beds make it easier for elderly people to get into and out of bed, sit up and lie down, and position themselves comfortably and safely.
- Transfer boards and other equipment designed to help wheelchair users transfer to and from chairs and beds.
If you have any questions about equipment, be sure to talk to your parent about their needs. They may be hesitant to go into detail about their medical and support requirements, but it’s vital that you understand them if you’re to create a safe and comfortable environment. It may also be helpful to talk to a medical practitioner or professional caregiver.
Finally, if you have questions about home hospital beds, accessories, or hospital bed mattresses, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our hospital bed specialists.