Setting the Scene for
When families make the decision that elderly parents will
move in with their adult children, the most important things are to plan in
advance and have open, honest discussions. Every family is different, and every
situation is different. But there are some things that every family should keep
in mind to avoid some of the emotional turmoil that can result when different
adult generations live under one roof.
Topics to discuss
Most of the information below is based on the assumption
that the older person moving into the house is fairly mobile and in pretty good
Kitchen habits and eating arrangements: Everyone
needs to have the same expectations about this. It’s hard to give up your own
kitchen. Who’s going to do most of the cooking? Does your mother plan on moving
in and cooking dinner every night? If so, is that okay with you? Do you and your
parent or parent-in-law expect to eat dinner together every night? On the other
hand, does your parent or parent-in-law expect you to prepare the meals all the
time? Are your tastes in food compatible? Do you all know the answers to these
questions? If not, talk about how you would expect your days to go in terms of
breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Household chores: Again, make sure everybody’s got
the same idea about this. As part of the younger generation, you may think you
should take care of the house and let your parent relax. But do you know your
parent wants it that way? Maybe she or he would like to contribute a little.
Talk it through, even though it may feel awkward.
Expenses: For lots of families, there’s little
that’s more awkward than talking about money. But if you don’t do it, you’re
opening the door to possible resentment down the road. Will you be sharing
household expenses, such as groceries, or will you be covering everything
yourself? Will you continue to pay your rent or mortgage on your own, or will
your parent contribute?
If younger children are involved: Are three
generations living under one roof? That can make things even trickier. Sometimes
grandparents feel the need to discipline their grandchildren or express opinions
about the way they’re being raised. Try to agree beforehand that parents should
keep their parental role and grandparents should have the same kind of
relationship with their grandchildren they’ve always had. This makes things
easier on everybody.
What about your parent’s furniture: It will probably
be a comfort for your parent to have some of their own furniture in the house.
Have you talked about this? Are you willing to rearrange things a bit to
accommodate your parent’s things?
Can everybody get a little privacy?
Does your parent have a decent-sized bedroom? Is there a
bathroom attached? If not, this might be the time to invest in your home to
create a comfortable space.
What about the future?
Have you talked about what will happen if your parent
becomes sick or frail and needs more care? Do you know who will be the main
caregiver? How will that affect your work schedule? All of these issues need to
be covered before they happen—if they happen.
A good rule of thumb
Plan it out, share your thoughts and feelings and most
important of all, suspend judgment whenever possible. Start your statements with
“I” rather than “you,’ as in “I miss cooking meals for my family,” rather than,
“You just want to take over in that kitchen!”
Respect everyone else’s feelings and remember how important
unconditional love among family members is.
How to Cope With Elderly Parents Moving In
Moving Your Elder in with You:
Practical Tips & Suggestions