Caregiving from far away is challenging at best, as Betsy learned when her career took her 400 miles away from her aging mother. When we married, I moved almost as far from my mother. It’s one of the reasons we started our homecare business; we saw how hard it was to know your parents are aging well when you live at a distance.
When Betsy and I moved to Roanoke, we found a house that would have enough room for one of our mothers to move in and have her own space if that became necessary. Removing the distance is one option that might make care more manageable. But if you are contemplating moving an aging parent or relative into your home, there are several factors you should consider before making a commitment that might be larger than anticipated.
First, think about whether you might need to make some modifications to address your loved one’s aging needs now and in the future. Is your home age-friendly for both younger and older inhabitants? When Betsy’s mother would come for a visit, her bedroom (our guest room) was upstairs on the same level as our children’s rooms. While in her late 80’s, she could still negotiate the stairs and said upon leaving that her legs were stronger for having climbed stairs every day. Had she ever come to live with us, she would have needed a downstairs apartment with no stairs at all, because she could no longer climb stairs in her 90’s. Other decisions might involve bathroom modifications to add grab bars or a walk-in shower, or wider doors to accommodate a walker, wheelchair, or second kitchen so that your parent can make their own meals to feel more independent. Here’s a link from Agingcare.com that illustrates more about home modifications.
Multigenerational living has both its benefits and its challenges. You need to consider and respect your family’s feelings when deciding to move an aging relative into your home. Also, if you have siblings, listen to their thoughts and feelings as well. Remember, it takes a healthy community to balance care for the best outcomes. Invite lots of input, and don’t forget to ask your mom or dad what they think about how moving in might work. Click here to find out more about multigenerational living.
Then there is the cost of having your mother or father move in to live with you, and the question of their care needs assessment. If they need care, do you have the time to provide that care in addition to your current responsibilities? Will you be balancing the new responsibility of caring for an aging parent or relative with managing a job or career and nurturing a family? If you have a spouse, kids, work, pets, church, and community involvement, it’s easy to lose things in the whirlwind of activity, and you certainly don’t want one of those things to be your aging parent OR your family!
Caring.com gives an excellent summation of things to consider when Mom might be moving in.
Betsy and I hope you will join our conversation this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about finding balance when mom moves in.