What To Do With Aging Parents – Move Them In With You, Or Relocate To Them?
Caring for an aging parent can take a big toll on the entire family, whether it’s emotionally, physically or financially. Almost half of all caregivers report high levels of emotional stress. Finances are often stretched to their limit, and even some families face the risk of ending up living in poverty.
Oftentimes, it’s difficult to decide whether it is best to move the aging parent in with them, or consider leaving their own homes (including their jobs) and relocate to an aging parent’s house. Both options have their own pros and cons, so its important to be clear on them from the beginning.
Living With An Aging Parent
Deciding to live with an aging parent is a great way to pay them back all the love, care and everything else that our parents gave us. In many families, it is an adult child’s duty is to take care of his or her parents during their aging years.
When you take care of your aging parents, you also model this behavior to your own children. So they in turn, get to understand what commitment and caring are really about. From a young age, they learn the importance of providing care and sacrifice to loved ones and the older generation. In most multi-generational homes, youths also benefit from this interaction. It can help give them different perspectives and also prepare them for when they become parents themselves.
However, we also have certain limits in taking care of our aging parents. Things such as career, physical capacities and time can make us feel overwhelmed with all the responsibility involved in taking care of our loved ones.
If you’re juggling your time between doing a full-time job while taking care of young kids as well as an aging parent, you could soon find yourself suffering from a major issue of sleep deprivation.
There’s also the need to assess what your relationship is like with your parents. Whether you get along well or if you have differences that seem impossible to settle. If both you and your aging parent would only be miserable living together, it may be wiser to look for a different option.
Choosing To Relocate
Many Boomers and Gen-Xers are faced with the question on what to do with aging parents who live far away. There is always the hard choice: uproot their own life in order to provide care for a parent, or see what they can to do to manage things from a distance.
Relocating can be an option if you have a career that is not location-dependent. Be sure you do extensive research on the area (career opportunities, school options for the children, etc.). You can get a bigger picture on what you can expect once you’ve decided to stay for good and live near.
However, relocating shouldn’t be seen as the full solution to the task of taking care an aging parent. You can expect to face other issues that may occur whether you have relocated or not.
What About Assisted Living?
If your parent is in an assisted living facility, you should remember that there are certain caregiving duties you ought to perform yourself. These can include:
- Handling medical calls in an emergency situation
- Monitoring your aging parent’s care at the assisted living facility
- Scheduling appointments and coordinating with the facility’s health care professionals
- Managing insurance and medical bills
As you’re doing all of this for your aging parents, you may still find yourself holding down a full-time job. In other words, the situation may become too much for you to handle. Its often this stress factor that drives the decision to ultimately relocate and live nearby an aging parent.
Relocating doesn’t also mean that old wounds will be healed. If you’re facing a lifetime of conflict with your parents, don’t think that swooping in will save the day. Remember that any ongoing conflicts or issues tends to become complicated when there’s a role reversal between the aging parent and an adult child. It’s best to try to acknowledge these challenges together. Remember, neither of you has done this before, and having empathy for each other’s situation can help move things forward on a more positive foot.
How To Decide
To help you come up with a decision, here are some questions you can think about:
- Do you think your aging parent needs assistance throughout the day?
- If yes, who is available to provide this type of assistance?
- Can your parent do certain daily living activities (bathing, food preparation, toileting) independently?
- Does your parent suffer from memory impairment?
- How would you assess your own health, physical abilities, job and family demands?
- Is there an appropriate medical care for your parent available in the community?
- Are you willing to do some renovations to your home to make it more elderly friendly (or wheelchair-friendly if the parent needs to be in a wheelchair)?
- Do you have relatives nearby who can visit and perhaps offer help in taking care of your parent?
- What services, such as transportation, adult day services, and in-home care, are available to your aging parent?
- If you’re relocating, are you willing to sacrifice your career or your lifestyle?
Each family has to decide what is best for them. The important thing is to be realistic both with the needs of your aging parents as well as the needs of your own family or living situation.