Elder Caregiving and Your Family: What to Consider
If you have older parents, in-laws, or other older relatives who can no longer live on their own, one solution you might be considering is moving them into your own home. This can offer several different advantages. It is usually less costly than an assisted living arrangement. It can strengthen family bonds and give grandchildren the opportunity to know their grandparents better. However, there are also potential drawbacks. Deciding what is best for your individual family and situation involves taking a few things into consideration.
First, you need to be realistic about the person's needs. In some cases, you may find that they need a level of medical care that you simply can't provide at home. On the other hand, if they're struggling with things such as preparing meals for themselves and keeping their house clean, finalizing estate planning documents, integrating them into your own home and family life might be the perfect solution.
Your Home's Layout
An important thing to consider is whether the layout of your home is appropriate for the older relative. This might be as simple as making sure that there are grab rails in the bathroom or that you get rid of any throw rugs that could slip underfoot. On the other hand, you may need to do more, such as install a wheelchair ramp or even widen doorways. If the person has mobility issues and your home has more than one story, don't assume that having them live with you won't work. One option is to install a home elevator, and what does a home elevator cost? You might be surprised to learn that it isn't as difficult to install or as expensive as you would expect.
Your Family Life
How will having this relative in the home affect your family life? Will anyone's workload be substantially increased, and if so, will that person be able to manage it? Adults who are caught between caring for dependent children and older parents are sometimes referred to as the sandwich generation in recognition of the fact that this can feel like being trapped between two competing priorities. On the other hand, if they are willing and able, grandparents might be able to provide help with childcare. With their accumulated life wisdom and family stories, they can be valuable additions to the household who can change it in positive ways.
Division of Labor
Who is going to taking over the bulk of the older person's care? You don't want to end up in a situation where one person is particularly burdened and becomes resentful. You may want to have a family meeting where you talk about how you might change how things are done. Kids might pick up some extra chores, such as doing their own laundry, cleaning their rooms, or even simple meal preparation. Another thing to consider and discuss is that the older person's needs may change over time. What will you do if the tasks related to their care start to increase? Is there a point where a different solution might be a better one?