As parents age, it often becomes more difficult for them to live independently and manage their own affairs without outside help. The thought of mom or dad leaving the comfort of the family home can be a painful and challenging proposition for everyone, but when it’s no longer safe or practical for them to live alone, adult children often intervene to find an alternative living arrangement. At that point, the question becomes whether you should invite Mom or Dad to live with you or help facilitate a move to a nursing home or other senior living facility.
Consider the following when deciding how to address an elderly parent’s living situation.
The emotional roller coaster
It helps to realize you’re entering a very emotional territory—for you and your parents—when you broach the subject of a move. Adult children often feel guilt and anxiety. You may also be frustrated by a parent’s lack of cooperation or combativeness. For the parent, there most likely will be sadness and, in some cases, anger. Understandably, parents will mourn their status as independent adults, which may be compounded by grief over a lost spouse, failing health or the prospect of dying. Be patient and respectful of one another. Avoid rushing the decision-making process as best you can.
Before you ask Mom or Dad to move in with you, think about the realities of this scenario. Does your home have the necessary space and amenities? You may need to remodel to accommodate special needs, such as a ramp for wheelchair access, safety bars in the bathrooms and so on.
Level of care
Be honest with yourself about how much care you can give. Will you be able to provide supervision, assistance with daily cares, medication, rides to the doctors’ office and more? Are you ready to prepare three meals a day, manage the extra laundry and give up your privacy? You may have the time, energy and willingness to joyfully take on these responsibilities. Or you may not. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Seek the help of professionals if you are able to do so.
The costs and who will pay them
Whether you open your home to a parent or help find a suitable alternative, there will be costs involved. A financial advisor can help you sort out the ramifications of having another boarder under your roof or paying for nursing home care. If you are paying for more than half of a parent’s living expenses or paying for medical expenses, you may be eligible for a tax break. Talk to your tax preparer to see if you qualify for deductions.
Seek help with decision making
No one can tell you what to do when the time comes to care for an elderly parent. Rally your extended family members and wise family friends to explore your options. Enlist the insights of your financial advisor and tax preparer to determine how expenses can be managed and shared. Keep a positive attitude and take advantage of the opportunity to help make things easier for your parent at this stage of life. By thinking it through, you can find a solution that works for the entire family. For more information, please contact Michael W. Yee at (808) 952-1240.