How to Prepare for an Elderly Loved One Coming to Live With You

An aging adult can choose to age in place in their own home, move to assisted living, or transition to a retirement community. However due to health issues, financial concerns, and other reasons, some seniors move into their adult child’s home instead. According to Pew Research, 64 million people (20 percent of the population) lived in multigenerational family households in the U.S. in 2016. Multigenerational living can allow an older person, their adult children, and their grandchildren to bond in new ways, and it can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved. If your parent or loved one is moving into your home, you need to prepare your household and the house itself for a smooth transition.

Assess their caregiving needs

If you are moving your parent or another elderly relative into your home, you need to evaluate and discuss their caregiving needs. If they are independent and healthy, then the transition can be much easier. However, if your loved one is going through a specific health problem, has a chronic illness, or needs long-term care, you should talk about it. Can you or someone in your household provide the assistance they need? Be realistic about what you can offer and recognize your limits. Do you have money, time, and energy needed to care for them? Does your loved one need 24-hour care, an in-home professional, or specialized equipment? Who will cover those costs?

While you are on the topic of finances, you need to also discuss if your loved one will contribute to the regular household expenses. When they move in, undoubtedly your grocery bills and utility costs will rise. By having a candid conversation about money now, you can avoid issues down the line.

Make home renovations

More than likely, you will need to do some renovations or modifications to get your home ready for caring for your senior loved one. You may need an automatic chair lift, if you have stairs in your home. You’ll want to add handrails, grab bars, a shower bench, and other bathroom modifications to help prevent slips and falls. You might need to widen doorways and hallways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair. You also may need family members to swap bedrooms or convert a den to allow your senior to reside on the first floor of your home without stairs. For safety, you also want to install motion-sensor lighting and remove trip hazards (such as area rugs and tattered carpet).

Do you have the budget for these types of modifications? Perhaps you can split the costs with your loved one, or apply for financial assistance or a home improvement loan for some of the renovations.

Find space for their belongings

People accumulate a lot of stuff over their lifetimes. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, there are 300,000 items in the average American home. Even if your parent or relative gets rid of many things when moving out of their own home, unless you have a very spacious house, you probably won’t be able to accommodate all their belongings. Therefore, you’ll need to find storage space. Consider adding a simple steel building to your property for storing their “must-keep” items. The benefits of having your own steel structure built on-site are proximity (your loved one can get what they want/need anytime), durability (steel lasts for 50+ years), and cost-effectiveness (in the long run, it will cost less than renting a self-storage unit).

Once you’ve worked out the details about finances, renovations, and storage, you’re almost there. When your parent or loved one move in, there may be an awkward adjustment period. You’ll want to respect their privacy and need for alone time, but also include them in family activities so they avoid being isolated. This can be a tough balance. However, with a little patience and a lot of communication, multigenerational living can be beneficial to everyone in the household.

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