As parents get older and more forgetful, it might seem like the safest, most responsible thing to do to open your home to them. However, making the decision is only the first step. After parents move in, adult children find that having someone in the house results in significant changes to their own lifestyle and even the way they decorate. When it comes to aging parents moving in, it’s always best to be as prepared as possible for any problems that might pop up. Here are a few of the most important factors to consider when you’re thinking about moving your elderly parent into your home.
The biggest hurdle your parent will come up against during this time will be trying to establish their own routines and habits after moving in with you. Often enough, older parents will be torn between trying to figure out how to live their life without inconveniencing you and trying to think of their new home as just that: A place where they can relax and feel comfortable. This can be a tricky dynamic to work out, and it will take a good deal of cooperation and even proactivity from you. Try to do what you can to make your parent feel at home.
It might be awkward at first, but encourage your parent to spread out and treat your space like their own. If there are certain areas that you need to keep reserved for work purposes (or just for privacy’s sake,) that’s absolutely fine. Just be sure you’re totally clear with your parent about what spaces you need and do your best not to ever make them feel like they’re stepping on toes just by coexisting with you. Ask your parent if there’s anything you can do to make them feel more comfortable and at home, and most importantly, always remember to give them their space. The transition is a tough one, and it’s going to take a while. Always be there to lend an ear, but also try to accept that your parent will be going through an adjustment that requires a lot of time and space to fully accept.
As important as it is to make your parent feel at home in your space, it should never be at the cost of your own comfort. The goal of moving in your parent is to make sure you can coexist in harmony, without anyone feeling underserved, neglected, or not taken seriously. Your home is still your home, and you need space and privacy within it. Your parent moving in represents an adjustment and a challenge for you just as much as it does for them.
As such, don’t be afraid to create clear boundaries. If you’re starting to run up against challenges, always try and talk it out and come to a solution that suits both of you. You shouldn’t ever have to feel like your home is no longer your own simply because you’re housing your aging parent. You’re not a full-time nurse, and you’re not expected to drop your own needs and comforts for the sake of your parent. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, look into nursing services or a peer program like Seniors Helping Seniors to lighten your burden.
The older we get, the more comfort we find in routine. For older people, it can be important to establish routines in order to remember certain things, or even just to feel comfortable and oriented. When a parent moves in, you may feel that their routine clashes with yours, or somehow presents a difficulty. For instance, your parent may get up considerably earlier than you and may be careless about noise, or your parent may very specific dietary needs that are different from yours. When figuring out the kinks, always try to listen and come up with a solution that works best for the both of you.
Sometimes when people we’re close to moving in, we become worried that we’ll end up spending all our time with them. However, it’s common enough that the opposite becomes the case, with two people who are close finally co-habiting and forgetting to set aside time to actually be together. You may be living with your parent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making the most of your time together. Try to find things to do together that you both enjoy and that will bring you closer.
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