For those of us who are lucky enough to have our parents around while they grow into old age, you might find that at some point in your life, the tables will turn, and you shall become the guardian! This can seem a little daunting, especially if you have lived by yourself, with friends, or with a partner for so long, as having someone to move in that needs taking care of does not come without its pressures or outright strains. This is even under the best of circumstances, where you have enough room in your home, have the time, energy, and money to look after someone else, and have a good relationship with your parents.
If you are reading this to prepare for the inevitable, or simply need a little bit of guidance, then you have come to the right place.
How Much Care is Needed?
The most important first step will be to address how much care will be needed, and crucially if you will be able to provide that care. Caring for someone is not a breeze, especially when you have your own lives to lead, so you will need to be aware of what you and your parents are up against in terms of a co-habitable, peaceful and successful living arrangement.
If your parents are simply slowing down and finding it a little more tricky to make their meals, or perhaps are experiencing loneliness, there is a good chance that you will not need any extra help. It is common in other cultures for many generations to live together and help each other out, and if you have a strong family life and connection, this might come as a drastic change but probably not a particularly unpleasant one – depending on the circumstances.
For those who have parents who are unwell or are experiencing the first signs of an ageing disease, things can get a little more tricky. Of course, depending on what stage this is will depend on how much help you might need in assisting the care of your parents.
Be Realistic About Providing the Help
First and foremost, it is important to remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Providing help and care to others can be particularly exhausting and challenging even when things are relatively ‘normal’, but if your loved ones are struggling with an age-related disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult to manage that, and all that it entails.
It might be that you can support your parents moving into your home with you, but that you will need extra help and support for it to work for both of you. This could be help from other relatives or friends, or it could be a case of calling in a professional service to help ease some of the responsibilities and tasks that would need to be done. If you realise that even with extra support or professional help, you still would not be able to provide a safe or secure environment or the attention your parent would need, then it is more than okay to consider a care home. Be sure to do your research and find a quality care home such as Brandywine Living that can assist your parents with everything they need with quality professional care.
Talk to Your Parents
While you might be really resisting the urge to say “my house, my rules”, it is crucial that your parents still have autonomy and a say in what happens if they are able to understand and decide. It is also important that both of your expectations and goals align, in case you all have different ideas about what it is you want to achieve out of the new living arrangements.
Both you and your parents’ needs need to be met in order for a harmonious change, and having an open discussion can facilitate that.
Be Mindful and Flexible
It is never easy having to rely on someone else, and broaching the topic may or may not be easy depending on how your parents feel about needing extra help or moving out of their home because they cannot manage by themselves. It could be that you have noticed this and made the suggestion yourself, which has left them not ready to accept that it might be a useful transition for them. They might also be in denial and believe that they do not need any extra help or that they are still perfectly capable in their own home, despite the fact there might be evidence that suggests otherwise. Moving into someone else’s home is never easy, especially if you want your own space, but the thought of leaving your home behind, your belongings, and a life you’re used to can be particularly daunting for anyone, and even more so for older people who might be used to their life.
Consider Your Financial Options
Caring for someone else is not cheap. Not only is it another person that will require food, use of electricity, water, and other essentials, but if you also need additional care help, including from professionals, this can start to add up. Check your financial options, and see if you can get any assistance with bills, especially if there is a medical issue. This is also only covering the basics, so if you can, make a budget that you can allocate to things that are classed as the less frequent essentials, too, such as holidays, trips out, and other enrichment activities for when your parents live with you. This could just be family time together or something more structural like a daycare centre.
Whatever you decide and whatever the outcome may be, it is important for you to know that there is no shame in asking for additional help and absolutely no shame in looking for care home options either. It is what they are there for, and the right home could support and care for your parents with trained professionals, leaving you to have all the fun times with them.