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Lifestyle | What To Expect When Your Elderly Parent Needs To Live With You


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It’s not every day that you find yourself worrying about you and how you will cope. Your children have probably been the biggest concern for the last few years. But they’re growing up fast and making their own paths to independence. Sadly, for our parents, the future is not quite so rosy. Elderly parents can struggle with the effects of aging. And soon, a choice may need to be made about their independence too.

It’s not easy to have that chat with your own parents. Over the years, we have watched them grow old. They may have become frail and ill. And their bodies may be slowly wearing out. Accidents happen. But if you’re concerned they’re happening more frequently, it could be time to speak to them about giving up their home.

Care homes are not always the popular choice. But sometimes they may be necessary. Happily, for many elderly people today, good health can be retained for longer. However, independent living when someone is alone is not always the safest option as the body becomes frailer. In these circumstances, you may suggest your parent moves in with you.

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This is not a decision to be taken lightly, though. After all, you’re still raising your own family, and their feelings need to be taken into account. Your home may also need to be altered or adapted for someone with mobility problems. These aren’t difficult to implement, and they’re not as expensive as you might think. It’s worth planning early so you can book in the services that you need.

When a wheelchair is needed, it’s important to have single story living available. First, consider the access into the home. There may be steps outside. You can install a ramp, but it might be cheaper and easier to order step lifts. They can later be uninstalled if you prefer, or placed elsewhere.

Creating a downstairs bathroom will require planning permission from your local council. Often, the builder can manage all of this for you. It often makes sense to expand a downstairs toilet area into a full bathroom. If this isn’t practical, you could consider building an extension or even an annex for your parent to live in.

Obviously, this is expensive and can be quite disruptive. You may not feel it worth it for the time it will be used by your parent. If you do make major alterations to your home, you might want to consider how you could use them should your parent no longer need them. A teenager would delight at a little more independence. Or you may be able to rent the space out to a tenant. Alternatively, keep the new rooms connected, and turn them into entertaining spaces or a bigger kitchen later on.

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Once your parent has moved in with you, there is a good chance you will have a lot more domestic duties to consider. There may be more cleaning to do and extra laundry. Some parents love to help out by looking after the kids, or preparing a meal for you all occasionally. Over time, these gestures may no longer be possible. And instead, you may find yourself performing personal care tasks for your parent.

If this is the case, it may be worth hiring a home help for a couple of hours each day. If you are not able to reduce your work hours or work from home, you are unlikely to have enough time to cope. Having someone there during the day can be a huge help for you. The more you do for your parent, the more you will need time away from the situation to rest and relax. It’s not easy caring for anyone. But when it’s someone you love, like a parent, it can be incredibly hard.

It’s important not to give up the things you love doing for leisure when your parent moves in. These breaks from running the home were important to you before you had the extra responsibilities. Try to keep them up. You should also try to share out the tasks required to take care of your parent. Can your kids spend a little time taking their grandparent out for a walk each day? Is your partner happy to do the cooking once or twice a week?

Of course, every individual is different, and each situation is unique. You may find your parent requires little personal care but needs a lot of help getting around. They may have hobbies and interests outside the home. Can you help them get to the places they need to go? Or can you help book taxis or other transport? Your parent might be fiercely independent and prefer to have their own space away from the hubbub of the household. Is this realistic for you all?

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Whether your parent and family are happy or not, a care home may be required at some point in the future. When you have lived with your parent for a while, this sudden separation can be very hard to deal with. The children will miss having their grandparent around after school and first thing in the morning. And you may feel strangely redundant at first.

We all feel that we owe our parents so much. As parents ourselves we know just how many sacrifices need to be made for a growing family. We know it’s tough to raise children into responsible adults. And we’re grateful. This can lead to a lot of feelings of guilt when the time comes for a parent to live in a care home. Illnesses like dementia and cancer can make this essential. But sometimes having no choice in the matter can make you feel worse.

We all love our parents, and we’re desperate to ensure they are happy and comfortable. Sometimes we can open up our homes and make cohabiting in this way a pleasure and a success. It’s not easy to do, though, and it can be hard work for everyone to cope with the situation. Take each day as it comes, and enjoy being close again.

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