This week’s blog continues the discussion of an aging adult who wants to stay in his or her home. The introductory installment (on February 11, 2016) discussed the emotional turmoil that can face the adult children in deciding whether to accede to the aging parent’s wishes to stay home. The February 18, 2016 installment discussed home modifications that may make it easier for an aging adult to stay home. The February 25, 2016 installment discussed medication management. The March 3, 2016 installment discussed hiring someone to help with activities of daily living. The March 10, 2016 installment discussed whether aging in place is an appropriate choice for someone suffering cognitive issues. The March 17, 2016 installment discussed services that can make it easier for an aging adult to stay home. Today’s installment will discuss the aging parent moving into an adult child’s home.
When an adult child sees Mom or Dad start to have trouble functioning with everyday activities, the adult child might consider moving Mom or Dad into the adult child’s house. Frequently, the parent and adult child have talked about this possibility in the past, usually at a time when the parent didn’t show any signs of ever needing help with routine activities. Even more frequently it seems, the parent has always assumed that he or she would move into the adult child’s house but has not discussed that assumption with the child.
Of course, the adult child must get agreement from his or her spouse (if married) before bringing an aging parent into the household. In addition, if the adult child has any children at home, their buy-in is certainly preferable if not absolutely necessary.
The adult child must consider the home’s physical layout before bringing an aging parent into the household. For example, if the aging parent cannot go up and down stairs, the house must have a place to sleep and a full bathroom on the main floor and may also need a ramp at one of the outer doors. As another example, if the aging adult needs a wheelchair or walker, an older home with narrow doorways and hallways may not be acceptable.
In addition, the adult child must consider his or her nuclear family’s lifestyle before bringing an aging parent into the household. If the adult child and his or her spouse work, will the aging parent be able to receive the supervision necessary to stay in the home? If the adult child and spouse are not “homebodies,” will either of them be willing to spend significant amounts of time at home with the aging parent (or in-law?) The care needs of the aging parent will put a strain on family relationships. How will the family deal with the strain?
Moving an aging parent into the adult child’s home sounds like it would solve most the the care issues for the aging adult. The devil is in the details, however. It is a much tougher situation than most people realize.