The prospect of providing in-house care to an aged parent can be daunting. This kind of significant change often requires the careful consideration of important emotional, economic and social issues. Nonetheless, having a parent 'move in' is an increasingly popular course of action.
Here's what you need to know before your parent moves in with you.
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All in the family
Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that almost 2.7 million Australians identify as 'carers' (2012). Amazingly, 29% of these carers (around 770,000 people) also identified themselves as the 'primary carer'.
In the majority of these cases (83%), carers lived in the same household as the person to whom they provided care. Of these respondents 63% of respondents cited a family responsibility as their chief reason for taking on a carer's role, with a further 41% identifying a sense of moral obligation.
Half of the respondents believed that by providing their own care they could offer a better quality of life to their loved ones or patients. Ultimately, you may find that the decision when it comes to your individual situation requires careful planning and consideration.
Are you able to have a parent move in?
Personal and other circumstances may make it difficult to accommodate an older parent requiring aged care. You must carefully consider whether your home is appropriate and whether there is space for your parent. Families with children still living at home will often find that the balance can be challenging, but it's not impossible.
Ideally, the house should not be too difficult to navigate (two-storey houses and large spaces may prove to be tricky). You may also require certain renovations or additional fixtures in the bathroom, around staircases and in common areas (rails, space for a medical device or aid etc.).
If you find that you are unable to afford these kinds of significant renovations (or that your home is simply not an ideal fit for your older parent) then take the time to consider other options before moving ahead with an unworkable plan.
Understand their needs
Depending on the exact nature of your parent's illness (or their age or relative level of mobility), you may or may not be able to provide an appropriate level of care. A discussion with the family doctor or health care provider is often the best way of first determining these needs. These often include rigorous management of medication and medical appointments and your on-going ability to provide day-to-day care (including bathing, feeding, dressing or maintaining medical devices).
In some cases, age-related illnesses can also lead to a deterioration or change in your parents demeanour or personality. For example, families of Alzheimer's sufferers will often report changes in nature and disposition. Sometimes these changes can be negative, with the sufferer exhibiting signs of anger or frustration. This isn't always the case, as many Alzheimer's patients can be very calm.
Would your parent be better served by dedicated professional care?
Consider the impact
It's important to think about the impact of your parent moving into your family home. If your family has a history of helping and interacting with your parent, the transition to the family home might be easier. Additionally, a good family network can ease the burden of the care-giving needs and even help socialise an older parent.
Essentially, there are many benefits associated with a parent moving in. If your children are younger, and your parent's medical needs aren’t too restrictive, the addition of a 'time-rich' adult can be a huge help. And if your kids are old enough to interact well with their grandparent, this can be an inspiring relationship as your children will learn to know and care for their grandparent.
For those who've lived through an in-home care-giving situation, it is often a life-changing and truly humbling experience. However, for others, the situation may be less than ideal. Consider the best interests of your family, and don't be afraid to face the reality of your own relationship with your parent. Care giving is difficult, and an already-tenuous relationship is not going to get any easier.
Talk about finances
It's an awkward topic of conversation, but before you have a parent move in it is important to know that the financial burden is not entirely yours. Though home-care can be costly, the truth is that it often saves the family a lot of money.
If you have siblings or others involved with care-giving, it's essential that they understand the reasons behind any financial arrangements, which might include contributions to rent, food and medical care. If it is just you then do you finances and work out how you will be able to afford to care for everyone.
Having a parent move in may result in a change to the well-established family dynamic. After years of being the responsible adult, your parent might resent their child taking over the important roles once played by them; in short, the child may become the responsible, ‘parent-like’ adult. Be sensitive to this and consider seeking professional advice if needed.
What are your thoughts on parents moving in with their adult children? Join the conversation below.