What to Consider Before Parents Move In
As parents get older and need more assistance, having them in the next room can be easier than trekking across town — or even the state — to provide care. And you wouldn’t be alone: These days, an estimated 34 million Americans are personally providing care for older family members, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA).
If you’re thinking about moving your parents or in-laws into your home full time, here are a few things to consider.
Set Aside Living Space
Parents will at least need their own bedroom, and ideally their own bathroom and kitchenette. If you have a spare guest room, a finished basement or a home addition, you may want to consider outfitting a senior-specific space for your parents, says Forbes. You may also want to get creative about your living space. Some ideas may include moving the kids into one shared room to accommodate for their grandparents, or crafting a wall divider to provide additional privacy for family members.
Plan For Home Upgrades and Other Expenses
If your home is too small, building an addition or renovating part of the home is an option — but it can be expensive. The national average cost for a midrange master suite addition is $130,986, according to Remodeling magazine’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, and the midrange cost to add a bathroom is more than $47,000.
If you opt to work with the space you currently have, keep in mind that you may still have to make some updates. Stairs can be an issue if your parent has a mobility issue, for example, and you may have to install an electric stair lift (usually running about $1,500 to $3,000), says HomeAdvisor. You’ll also likely spend some money upgrading the bathroom — adding grab rails in the showers, tubs and raising the toilets.
Besides budgeting for potential home upgrades, you may also want to consider how you’ll handle other household expenses like groceries and utility bills. Will you split them? Or, will you keep everything separate? According to U.S. News and World Report, come up with a defined plan beforehand so it’s clear how finances will be handled in this new living arrangement.
Prepare the Whole Family
Moving your parents into your home is a big decision, and it’s one that will affect the whole family. Have a family meeting to talk about the changes and hear everyone’s point of view, says Forbes. Besides the people who live in your home, you’ll also want to talk to your siblings and be sure they are on board with this plan — they may even be able to help financially or with care, according to the FCA.
Establish Some Ground Rules
Before they move in, it’s a good idea to sit down with your parents to discuss some expectations from both sides. Will you cook and eat every meal together? Will you respect each other’s privacy? Will you/they have friends over for socializing? Consider discussing these matters and coming to an agreement to help with a smooth transition, says FCA.
Decide What Option Is Best
It’s important to assess your parents’ health both physically and cognitively before they move in, according to Caring.com. You also want to be realistic about health changes that can occur as time goes on, as your responsibility may change, adds Caring.com.
Lastly, being a caregiver may be challenging — it can cause stress due to the amount of work that may be required, according to FCA. If you find that you and your partner are providing a majority of care, home health assistance may be a good option to consider to help relieve some of the stress, adds Caring.com. But professional help does have a price, especially if your parents do not have a long-term health insurance plan. According to the Administration on Aging, the average cost of a home health care aide is about $21 an hour.
Living with your parents can be an easy way to help care for them, but take a look at the whole picture to be sure it’s the best route for you and your parents.
Originally published on November 18, 2014.