As your mom and dad get older, you may start to consider moving them in with you. But merging households can be a major, life-changing decision for everyone involved. Before moving your aging parents into your household, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Is This the Only Option?
First, ask yourself if this move is truly necessary, whether for financial reasons or because a loved one needs around-the-clock care. While you may have the best of intentions, trying to move one or both parents into your home when they can remain independent may be a premature decision that is hard to reverse if things don’t work out well.
2. Is It Affordable?
Sit down and crunch numbers to make sure you can afford to care for a parent in your home. Remember that you may need to invest in special equipment, or make modifications to your home such as ramps or safety bars.
Will you be able to provide all the care yourself, or will you need to hire help? Make sure if you decide to consolidate households, you discuss who will pay for what to avoid any potential friction over finances. Caring.com recommends asking siblings to contribute to expenses as well, which seems fair if you’re carrying the bulk of responsibility and expense.
You might want to sit down with a professional financial adviser to review the costs of care, as well as the potential effect of moving on government benefits for parents and any tax benefits to you.
3. Is It Safe?
Can you create a safe environment for a parent, such as having a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor to avoid stairs, and will your loved one be safe in your home? Safety concerns include seniors with dementia, and whether they can stay in your home unsupervised — even for short periods of time.
It’s also wise to assess whether you can safely handle any medical care you need to provide. If not, ask your doctor about a home health referral. Just remember that home health visits are limited, and there must be a health condition that warrants such care for Medicare or insurance to cover the costs.
4. Will Other Family Members Adjust?
What kind of lifestyle adjustments will you need to make to accommodate parents? Does your family stay up late watching loud television programming that will disturb your loved one’s sleep? Even if you can handle dementia in a parent, how will your kids and spouse handle it? The last thing you want is to strain your marriage, or more tension with the adolescents in your household.
Remember, too, that moving in with your parents can change the dynamic you share. Will your parents be able to live in accordance with your house rules?
Moving your aging parents in with you is a big decision that you need to discuss with the whole family, as well as seeking professional financial advice. Approach your decision with realistic goals and expectations by planning for potential problems in advance.