Whether you are thinking about moving in with an adult child because of your age, finances, loneliness issues, etc., or contemplating having an aging parent move in with you, there are a wide variety of factors that need to be considered.
Currently, 1 out of every 4 adult caregivers in America lives with a disabled or elderly relative. We are all familiar with the potential upside of having two generations under one roof — financial assistance, increased fun time with a loved one, live-in babysitting, onsite handyman, etc. But the potential downsides — added responsibilities, fatigue, strained relations, stress, time constraints, etc. — also need to be addressed.
Here are a few of the potential problems that deserve attention and consideration before The Big Move:
—Pay very close attention to your aging relative's mental and physical state. If he or she has a chronic illness, that condition needs to be taken into consideration. The Family Caregiver Alliance, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is well-versed about how important it is to know all the aspects of the elderly person's illness.
—Will you be able to provide adequate assistance or supervision?
—How will your children react to another adult in the house? What will they learn from living with a senior citizen?
—Make an honest list of what you can and cannot do. For example, if you're good with paperwork, you can help with Medicare red tape, but you may not want to become (by default) a personal chef or laundress.
—Don't forget the demands of your own schedule. If you have children who need to be driven, or if your employer relies upon you during work hours, these time demands need to be taken seriously.
—Iron out any lingering, unresolved emotional conflicts before you share living quarters.
—Make sure the home is elder-friendly with things like wide doorways, a minimum number of steps (indoor and outdoor), etc. Is there enough room for your home to become older-adult-friendly?
—Can your other family members, like your siblings, help out financially so the economic burden on you doesn't become onerous?
—Consider the idea of combining your and your parents' assets so that a bigger, better home can be purchased for everyone involved to share.
—If you are providing in-home care, explore your state's Cash & Counseling program to see if it would apply to your situation.
—Adult children who take in an older adult are essentially teaching their own children valuable lessons about commitment, love, responsibility and sacrifice.
—Can your older family member adhere to the rules of your own family, and vice versa?
—Address issues including the impact of alcohol usage, dietary habits, much-loved pets, noise levels and smoking.
—Establish the parameters — and solutions — that surround the individual's logistical needs (appointments, bill paying, transportation, etc.).
Don't forget the importance of each member of your household having a healthy social network. A number of studies have shown that both isolation and loneliness are toxic, whatever your age.
—Don't forget to take good care of yourself. Chronic stress and exhaustion can lead to "caregiver syndrome," which happens when you shortchange your own body, mind or spirit while constantly caring for others.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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