Adapting to multi-generational homes can be difficult; as such, the decision to move a parent or older adult into your home can be daunting. If you’ve decided that it’s best for an older loved one to move in with you, you might have questions about what you can change in your house to enable everyone to live under one roof or how you can reduce stress. The good news is you’re not alone: According to the data from the US Census Bureau, the number of parents and parents-in-law living with their adult children in multi-generational homes was approximately 3.9 million in 2010.
Based on the experiences of professionals in the geriatric and caregiving professions as well as those of adult children who live in multi-generational homes, these five steps will help ease this transition for your family, helping to ensure safety and happiness for all.
Step 1: Ensure a Sense of Privacy
Evaluate your home as it currently stands to see how you can create a living arrangement that is both private and adequate for your loved one’s needs. A separate room or modular unit on the property can help allocate ample space to each member of your household. Consider making a separate entrance so that it’s easy for your loved one to come and go without disturbing the rest of the family.
Step 2: Ensure the Living Space Is Safe
The Family Caregiver Alliance suggests you adapt the layout of the physical space to any special needs an older adult may have, including mobility or vision problems. If possible, situate your loved one on the first floor so he can avoid having to climb stairs. You may have to add grab bars and separate temperature controls, or renovate the space to accommodate a wheelchair. Home health agencies or visiting nurses can conduct a home assessment for you and make suggestions.
Step 3: Ensure the Entire Home Is Safe
Survey your house for potential hazards such as throw rugs and pet areas. Add bright, glare-free lighting to hallways and safety adhesive strips to the front step, outdoor walkways, or other slippery surfaces. If your loved one wanders, install special door locks or alarm systems. Order a medical alert service for her room so she’ll have immediate access to emergency help if no one else is at home when she needs assistance.
Step 4: Ensure Proper Care
Determine what level of care will be needed by figuring out which activities your parent or loved one can do alone, such as bathing, cooking, or taking medications, and which will require assistance. For needs you cannot handle, investigate in-home caregivers as well as adult daycare and transportation alternatives for doctor’s appointments or physical therapy.
Step 5: Make the Move Positive
Leaving one’s house and belongings behind can be emotionally traumatic. Ease the break by discussing in advance what furniture your loved one can bring and how best to rearrange it. Most people are sad to leave their memories behind, but if you acknowledge and maintain sympathy toward your loved one’s losses, it will help him adapt to his new surroundings and feel at home.