No one wants to think about their parents getting older, but it’s inevitable. As the years pass, their health may not allow them to maintain the level of independence needed to support themselves on their own. This is especially true if their partner has passed away or is also suffering from debilitating ailments. However, declining physical health isn’t the only reason you may need to move your elderly parents. It may be due to financial shortcomings, feelings of isolation, or even mental ailments that increase in risk with age. Regardless of the reason, the move can be difficult for both parents and children alike. To help things go as smoothly as possible, here are some helpful tips for moving elderly parents.
How to Determine When it’s Time to Move Your Parents
As mentioned, one of the biggest reasons that children either move in with their parents or move their parents into their home is due to declining physical health. When elderly individuals are no longer able to safely do things around the house on their own, it creates a pressing sense of anxiety in their loved ones. If your parents are struggling to meet their basic needs due to physical or mental ailments, it’s time to consider moving them. Yet this process isn’t a one-dimensional decision. It’s not as easy as simply setting up a room in their house or in yours. Everyone has their own routine and if you haven’t lived with your parents since you were a child yourself, this transition will drastically alter the dynamics of your adult relationship. Consider the amount of care your parents may need, how both of your lifestyles will be affected, and all of the possible living situations.
Possible Living Situations
Deciding where to move your elderly parents is often the hardest decision. Would it be better if you moved in with them or should they move into an unused room in your home? Can they continue living on their own, just in a more accessible space? Are they well enough to live in a family home or do they require additional care? Is it best to look at nursing homes and assisted living facilities? There are several different possible living situations for aging adults, so make sure to weigh your options. If they’re lucid, include your parents in this conversation. You shouldn’t be the primary decision maker when they’re the ones making the move. It’s also important to consider the financial implications of each situation and space requirements.
Preparing for the Transition
The next thing you need to do is prepare all of the parties involved for the transition. Each possibility for different living situations will have unique challenges, so try to be patient. The most important part of the preparation is getting finances squared away, making space in your home or in theirs, and trying to create a plan that will help the transition go smoothly.
Tips to Cope with Potential Challenges
If you decide that the best course of action is to move in with your parents or move them into a room at your house, it’s going to take time to adjust. Becoming roommates again can present a number of challenges, so consider some of these tips on how to cope and maintain a civil home environment.
Try to Be Empathetic
Before you even begin the process of moving your aging parents, take the time to consider their situation. The transition involved in moving is going to be hard on everyone, but it can cause a sense of embarrassment for parents who have been living on their own for years. Be empathetic of their situation and try not to call negative attention to it. While moving in with you, or into an assisted home, is going to improve the day-to-day quality of their life, it’s not likely that those improvements are at the forefront of their minds. Instead, your aging parents may be focused on losing their independence and having to rely on their grown children. Be nice about these changes.
Create a Plan
Next, take some time to create a plan of action for the move. If they’re moving in with you, figure out which room will be theirs, when the transition will happen, and what they’re going to bring. Doing this will give you a more concrete idea of your to-do list so that you can better prepare for any challenges that come. If you have children, think about how you’re going to tell them about this change and whether or not it will impact their routine. Taking time to get organized ahead of the move will help you reduce anxiety and become more mentally prepared for the transition.
Maintain Honest and Open Communication
Living under the same roof as your parents can cause a lot of distress for everyone involved. If they’re moving into your home, this reversal of roles can be difficult to adjust to. To avoid rising tension, do what you can to maintain an honest and open line of communication. They’re aging, but they still have a degree of agency. Don’t talk down to them, listen to their concerns, and express yourself maturely when things are bothering you. When you put yourself in your parents’ shoes, you’ll be able to better understand the struggles their facing. Give them time and try to be patient.
This has been mentioned a few times, but it’s one of the most important factors to discuss when moving your elderly parents. You need to be clear from the beginning regarding how finances are going to be managed. Are your parents going to contribute to rent? Utilities? Are they going to pay for groceries or going out to dinner? When you have these conversations ahead of time, you avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations later on. Be thorough during these discussions so you can get finances out of the way and focus on other aspects of the move.
Utilize Outside Support
When elderly parents have health issues or complications that require assistance, consider hiring outside help. Undertaking the role of primary caretaker for your parents, in addition to working and raising a family, is going to put a lot of strain on your relationship and the living situation as a whole. If you have siblings, ask them to contribute to the finances necessary to hire outside support. You can also check to see if your parents’ insurance policy covers any support. This may include therapeutic services or medical assistance. There are plenty of options for home care for seniors across the country, so it’s good to look into.
Setting rules for your parents can seem a bit odd, but it will help you stay sane while you’re living together. These rules can include who’s responsible for cooking, whether or not they can have house guests and if so, who and when, family vacations, any changes with interior decorating, quiet hours, and so on. While it might seem like a weird concept, when this isn’t clarified upfront you leave room for conflict down the road. You may also want to include rules regarding babysitting if you have children. Having your parents in the house can mean a free babysitter, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on them without discussing it first.
Plan the Moving Day
Finally, make sure that you plan the moving day accordingly. It’s unlikely that your parents are going to be able to bring all of their belongings into your home, so you should have a conversation about what they want to do with excess. You can host an estate sale, donate some items, or put them away in self-storage.
When you move your elderly parents, you’ll likely need to help them downsize. This can be an emotional process, so try to be flexible and empathetic to their concerns. Rather than donating or throwing away the contents of their home, use a climate-controlled self-storage unit from The Lock Up Self Storage. We offer a variety of self-storage units in varying sizes to help keep your parents’ belongings easily accessible and in good condition. With our flexible leasing options, you can test out a unit with short-term rentals and extend into long-term rentals as needed. Our facilities are protected with top-of-the-line security features like perimeter alarms, gated access codes, and 24/7 CCTV. To learn more about our self-storage units at The Lock Up, give us a call today at 1-866-327-LOCK or stop by one of our locations for a tour of the facility.