As your parents age and become less independent, you must start making important decisions about their living environment. Many people have no choice but to choose an assisted living facility or nursing home option because their parents need help with daily living activities such as eating, bathing, and getting around. Sometimes, however, people opt to move their elderly parents in with them to maintain a sense of home and family for as long as possible.

If you do decide to have your elderly parents move in with you, you need to consider several factors and prepare for the inevitable changes that come with such a move. By doing so, you can make the transition smoother for both your parents and other loved ones.

Making Your Home Senior-Friendly

Before your elderly parents move in, it is important to make an assessment of your current living environment and make any changes necessary to create a more senior-friendly environment. You may need to remodel and make changes to entryways, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, and even your backyard.

Some features to consider having include no-step entries, no-step thresholds, garage lifts, roll-in/walk-in showers with height adjustable handheld shower heads, shower and toilet grab bars, elevated toilets, sufficient lighting, rocker light switches, walk-in closets with storage at different heights, electric stairs, wheelchair ramps (if necessary) and raised flower beds in the backyard.

In the kitchen, you want to ensure there is ample maneuvering space, a sink with knee clearance, a raised dishwasher, lowered cooking surfaces, a wall oven and microwave at reachable heights, and an abundance of storage space within reach. All of these things will help your elderly parents function more efficiently in your home.

Handling Costs

One of the most overlooked, and underestimated, factors associated with elderly parents moving in with their children is cost. Your first consideration should be figuring out what Medicare, Medicaid and insurance benefits your parents are eligible for. You should also create a list of income sources, assets, debts, and liabilities in order to get a clear financial picture. If you have siblings, reach out to them and mention the possibility of sharing costs.

Even with these senior benefits, you may have to assume some of the financial responsibilities associated with having your parents move in with you. A recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and Evercare found that caregivers spend on average about $5,500 a year out of pocket to care for an aging relative. You may have to readjust your family budget in order to account for your new housemates, but if you perform your due diligence, you will have a strong understanding of what changes you need to make in order to make the situation work.

Care and Supervision

It is imperative to consider the type of geriatric care your parents will need once they move in. For example, if one or both of your parents is sick or incapacitated, they will most likely need some type of medical equipment, which may include a hospital bed, wheelchair, bed pans, or walkers. This equipment also comes with a cost, which cannot be overlooked.

You also need to consider home healthcare if you think you (or your spouse/children) will not be able to meet your parents’ physical or mental (Alzheimer’s/dementia) needs. Caregiving can be difficult both physically and emotionally, and if your parents need a great deal of assistance, home healthcare may be the best option. Financial assistance to help cover home healthcare costs are sometimes available through Medicaid plans and private insurance plans. Also check to see if one of your parents has long-term care insurance.

Another factor to consider is prescription drugs. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the average cost of prescription drugs in the United States doubled between 2006 and 2013, and it has risen more since. The typical American senior spent $11,341 on prescription drugs in 2013, up from $5,571 in 2006. Add to this the fact that nearly 92 percent of older American adults have at least one chronic health condition and 77 percent have at least two (American Society of Consultant Pharmacists), and you are probably dealing with significant prescription-drug expenses that may not be completely covered by insurance.

When taking in an elderly parent, you must also consider their dietary needs and food restrictions. You may find yourself shopping for specialty food products and nutritional supplements, which can cause a hefty increase in your monthly grocery bill.

Other Family Members

Having your elderly parents move in has its pros and cons, especially when it comes to other family members, most significantly your spouse and children. On the one hand, this represents a great opportunity to provide your children with the benefits of having a close relationship with their grandparents. They will also learn what it means to take care of and make sacrifices for the people they love.

On the other hand, you must ensure you communicate with your spouse and children and set expectations before your parents move in. Sacrifices will have to be made, whether this means your spouse has to cut back on personal spending or your kids have to share a bathroom with grandpa, and everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to these new realities. Most importantly, everyone must go into it with an open heart and mind, understanding some changes and adaptations will be necessary, and feeling that being with family is more important than any small sacrifices they will need to make.

***

Senior Partner In-Home Care is locally owned and operated and has helped thousands of Central Florida seniors live safely and independently at home for over 16 years. Care is available wherever the client is residing 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is surprisingly affordable, with no extra charge for nights or weekends. It is licensed by the state of Florida and has been providing a better quality of life for seniors in Brevard, Osceola, Orange and Seminole Counties since 1998. Call 800.878.1928 for more information.