Caring for aging family members is the new reality for many Americans. As new technology extends lives, fragile older relatives need help with day-to-day tasks. Before you accept a new addition to your household, you need to prepare for the upcoming change to your life. Here are five steps to follow to get your family and your house ready for an older family member.
Talk to Your Children
Whether your children are old enough to be out of the house or still young, their lives will be impacted by you caring for an aging family member. Talk to them about what will change and what will stay the same. Ask their opinions. Find ways for them to contribute. Take their concerns seriously; your children will be a source of strength in this new living arrangement.
Relying on you be a difficult process for your relative. It’s emotionally difficult to move homes, let alone become dependent on your children or younger family members. On your end, having a permanent new guest with possible hearing, memory or mobility impairments will be disruptive. You should talk with your relative to establish boundaries that will keep everyone happy. Perhaps you don’t want your family member to discipline your children or listen to television without headphones. Your relative may not want you to enter their bedroom without knocking or interfere in their medical care. You both need to talk about your expectations before anyone moves.
Consider the Best Bedroom
Before you move your relative into your home, work with them to decide the best play for them to stay. If they have mobility issues, they may struggle with a second-floor bedroom. You may need to empty your living room and use that space as your relative’s new sleeping area. Bathroom placement is important as well. A disabled elderly relative should be placed as close to a restroom as possible.
Arrange for Self-Care
Caring for the caregiver is an important topic in elder care. It’s been discussed by the AARP and countless organizations dedicated to helping you with caring for aging family members. Before you take on the task of care-giving, make a plan for respecting your own mental health. For high-functioning relatives, you can ask them to schedule out-of-the-house activities like golfing, playing bingo or visiting with friends. If your relative is completely dependent on you, reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging. They can help you find respite care providers and adult day care centers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average cost for caring for an elderly relative is $5,531. You might need to quit your job or reduce your hours at work to provide enough supervision for your family member, which will decrease your household income. Before you move mom or dad into your home, talk to them about the best financial arrangement for your family. Can your relative contribute part of their retirement or Social Security benefits to household expenses? Your family member doesn’t want to be a burden to them. Work with them to create a plan to move them into the house without sacrificing financial stability.
Don’t feel discouraged or ungrateful because you want to talk to your relative before letting them move in with you. Setting clear expectations for everyone ensures that your dedication to caring for aging family members remains a positive experience for you and your relative.