The decision to move your aging parents into your home isn’t always an easy one. You may have concerns over how the new home dynamic will impact your spouse and children. Or, what is even more likely, your parents may feel reluctant to give up their home and some measure of their independence.
On the other hand, however, multigenerational households can have a lot to offer to the entire family. Your children will benefit from having their grandparents close at hand. Your parents will have safety, security, and support as they age. And you will have the peace of mind of knowing your parents are well cared for.
Depending on your parents’ health statuses, you are likely to reap more pragmatic and tangible benefits as well. Having grandma and grandpa at hand can mean help with childcare, homework, and light household chores.
However, moving your aging parents into your household requires planning and preparation to make the transition as smooth and easy as possible. This article provides actionable advice for creating a safe and welcoming environment for your parents.
Consider Whether It’s the Right Thing For All
Moving your parents into your home can feel like a no-brainer, like something that can, should, and must be done when your parents’ needs evolve with age. But the truth is that it’s not always so simple.
For example, many adult children automatically assume that moving their parents will result in significant cost savings for all. In fact, though, their care needs may actually result in an increase in household expenses, rather than a decrease. So when you’re considering whether to invite your parents to live with you, one of the first and most important questions to ask is whether your family can truly afford it.
It’s also important to ask yourself whether you have the physical and emotional support you need to ensure that you and your spouse and children are cared for as well as your parents.
The good news, though, is that the benefits of multigenerational living often far outweigh any potential drawbacks. Thus, if your family is financially prepared and is also positioned to manage the additional caregiving responsibilities that are likely to arise, the rewards can be great. The key is to be realistic, strategic, and prepared when determining if and when to move your parents into your home.
Prepare for the Blending of Households
There’s no question about it: moving is challenging in the best of circumstances. But it can be especially tough when you are a senior endeavoring to blend households. Amplify those concerns if the move is a big one, such as a cross-country relocation.
So the first thing you’re going to need to do is to create a comprehensive checklist of both what needs to be done and what needs to be transported. Your parents will need to have an inventory of items to be sold or donated, items to be stored, and items that they will bring with them when they move.
If they’re moving out of a family home that they’ve resided in for decades, odds are this will be both an arduous and emotional process, so give them all the support, time, empathy, and patience you can.
Getting Your Home Ready
Once you’ve determined that sharing your home is going to be the best course for all, it’s time to start preparing your house for the big event. It’s going to be a big transition for your parents physically as well as psychologically, so you’ll want to do all you can to make your home as comfortable, safe, and functional as possible.
For instance, you’ll want to do a thorough sweep of your home inside and out, looking for areas that might be unsafe, uncomfortable, or unusable for your parents. If they have issues with mobility or balance, for example, then take care to remove any slip and fall hazards. Be sure to clear away any clutter and to install rails and grab bars in bathrooms and on stairs.
Likewise, if they have issues with sight or hearing, installing extra lighting or doorbells, telephones, and fire alarms with strobe lights will make your home comfortable and functional.
Making your home as safe and accessible as possible means that your parents are likely to be more physically and mentally active. They’ll feel more comfortable in moving around the house and grounds, and in being active with the family. And there’s perhaps nothing more important for keeping your aging parents healthy than that!
Making the Move
Once your home is prepared and your parents’ space has been inventoried so that you’re clear on what goes, what stays, and what gets stored, you’re ready to make the move happen. Again, though, that’s not necessarily as simple as it sounds, especially if your parents are moving from out of state.
One of the most critical concerns is to find the most reliable and affordable moving company possible. Make sure you’re doing your homework, from getting referrals to exploring reviews to checking the company’s credentials. Confirm their licensing, ensure they’re bonded, and vet their policies for insuring items that may get lost or damaged during the move.
To minimize the physical strain on your parents, you might also hire a moving company that will take care of the more laborious aspects of moving, such as packing up or shipping their care.
Moving your aging parents into your home can be a difficult decision but it’s also often the best one for the entire family. And the good news is that the transition can be truly seamless with just a bit of planning and preparation.