Preparing For Your Elderly Parent to Move In
Preparing Your Family
Decades ago, having Grandma or Grandpa come to live with the younger generations was fairly common, and it often worked well.
It did for my family. When my brother and I were teenagers and our little sister a toddler, our grandmother can to live with us. Grandma was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis and could no longer live alone.
My parents built a house that would accommodate the different generations, with some privacy for all, and Grandma came to live with us. The home wasn’t huge by today’s standards, but it was nice and well designed for our needs. The arrangement worked.
One big reason it worked was that Mom did not work outside the home, which was common in those days, so there was nearly always someone home with Grandma.
Also, I was a born caregiver and filled the caregiver’s shoes for both my toddler sister and my crippled grandma – with joy. Alas, I didn’t know then that decades of my life would be spent as a caregiver, but that is another story.
These days, having grandma move in with the family is still an option for some families, but it has become more complicated.
First of all, there are fewer families with a stay-at-home adult in the home. This is where a great deal depends on Grandma’s health.
I know of one family where the dad is single. He has custody of his two young sons most of the time, and his mother has moved in. For the most part, Grandma is actually a help with the boys. Yes, she has her issues, and there has been some adjusting on all sides. But with Dad’s odd hours and Grandma still fairly capable, it’s a situation that works well for all.
At least for now. But, what if Grandma’s health began to fail? What if Grandma was in mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease? Would this still work?
It might. If the whole family is well prepared, the arrangement could still be fine. In this instance, the kids are getting used to having their grandmother live with them while she is still quite healthy. That should help with the transition, as they grow older and Grandma grows more frail. There will be some switching of roles, I expect, as time moves forward.
How you would prepare for an elder to move into your home would depend somewhat on the age of the children, if any are still living at home. Also, it would depend on the elder’s health.
Should the kids expect that Grandma is in charge when Mom and Dad aren’t home, or should they be taught that they will be in the role of caregiver? There’s a big difference and this needs to be discussed with the family ahead of time.
Often, as in the case above, there is a single adult child with children when the elder moves in. Sometimes, of course, there is a marriage to consider. All of these dynamics should be acknowledged and openly addressed, preferably giving examples of issues that could pop up and throw everyone off kilter.
To avoid emotional overload when an elderly parent moves in, first take a look at your historic relationship with the elder.
The relationship that existed between parent and adult child needs to be scrutinized. What are the motives for having the parent move in?
My personal feeling is that if parent and adult child never got along, preparing for such a move would mean some therapy for the adult child to determine why he or she wants this arrangement.
There could be a huge temptation here to try to force a relationship to work that never worked very well from the start. Is the adult child still trying to gain Mom’s approval? That would, to me, signal danger. Is it guilt? That, too, would signal danger.
If, however, you always got along really well with your mom, and your husband and kids love her dearly, you may be simply doing what comes naturally. You want to take care of your mom, she needs some help, and having her move in with you is the next natural step.
If you work outside the home, then the day may come where you have to hire some in-home help to care for mom. For many people this works beautifully.
Expectations, to me, are huge in this arrangement. If we go into it with our eyes open to our motives for wanting Grandma to move in; if we are realistic in what we are expecting to happen when we live together, then there is a better chance that everyone will cope with the changes fairly well.
Consider Everyone in The Home
If you desperately want your mother to come and live with you because she needs you, but your husband doesn’t like the idea, it seems wise to me that you would hash this out before taking such a step.
As with an adult child trying to create something good out of a relationship that never was good, some outside help with counseling prior to making a decision to have Mom move in would be a good idea. Maybe, once your husband knows how much this means to you, it will be okay.
But talk it through thoroughly before making the change. Having Mom move in has the potential to destroy a frail marriage or family relationship.
Most caregivers dive into caregiving because they want to help. They don’t always consider that this help may go on for years. And that it’s not just about love.
Having a parent move in with you can be a good move financially, for both you and the parent. After all, you are only paying for one residence. But another person means more expenses for food and utilities. It may even mean building on to a house or hiring outside help.
Figure out who pays for what ahead of time. Having the financial arrangement drawn up by an attorney ahead of time may be advisable.
Then there would be fewer problems should the elder need to move to a nursing home and be placed on Medicaid.
Records will make a big difference here, so if you start out knowing who pays for what, and have it written down, you are ahead of the game.
Have A Plan for Down The Road
Have a talk about end of life issues. The idea would be kind of like a prenuptial agreement. Be realistic that the day may come when your elder needs more care than you can give, and that important decisions should be made in advance.
Find out about care options, such as hiring someone to come into the home to help. However, know ahead, that the day may come where your elder will need 24-hour nursing care.
Plan for what you consider the best, but know that the outcome may not be as you wish. Live a day at a time, but have realistic ideas about what you can do for your elder. Know you may need help. Then, if you, your family and your elder are all at least somewhat compatible and have plans in place for backup care, go for it. If planned for realistically, the arrangement could work out very well. It did for my family.
Adapted from an article by Carol Bradley Bursack
Prepare Your Home
Depending on their specific situation, that could mean moving into a retirement community or moving in with a loved one. Either destination can be a big change for the retiree, but when they move in with you, it can be a stressful change of lifestyle for both parties.
Let’s be honest: when we care deeply for our elderly loved ones, we want to make sure they are taken care of. If that means them moving in with us, then so be it.
For many, the idea of sticking them in a retirement community to live out the rest of their days means watching daytime television, consuming Jell-O by the gallon, and trying to tell an orderly who doesn’t speak English that they need to use the restroom. These are all misconceptions – planned living communities really are not so bad!
However, many people still do not consider that to be an option. But in the back of everyone’s mind, they also think of how an elderly relative moving in disrupts your life.
For the seniors, they do not wish to be a burden on their loved ones. They do not want to feel as though someone is obligated to take care of them and they like the ability to do everyday living tasks without any assistance.
For you, the caregiver, the idea of having someone else to take care of can leave you apprehensive due to your lack of knowledge or experience. You may be concerned about the appearance of you home and how it may change when an elderly or disabled person moves in, but at the same time feel lost or bad about exploring other alternatives.
Fortunately, manufacturers of independent living products have developed items that are beneficial to both parties. Products that allow seniors to handle everyday living without the need for assistance are also being designed to look less clinical and not require a permanent installation.
With the right independent living products, seniors maintain an independent and safe lifestyle while you feel less burdened and your house retains its normal appearance.
Bathroom Safety — Preventing Falls Makes Everyone Happier
As we get older and our legs, arms, and hands begin to weaken, the bathroom can be the most dangerous room in the house.
Bathrooms combine moisture and linoleum floors, and rarely give you a soft surface to land on if you fall. Getting on and off the toilet or getting in and out of the tub can put an elderly person at serious risk.
To get on and off the toilet, doctors recommend an elevated toilet seat with armrests. While there are models that can be clamped in place and do not require any hardware, they may not be sturdy enough if the person using it is overweight.
Combining the seat and arms with a hydraulic lifting system for extra assistance, an ergonomic airlift bedside commode is easy to install and can be used as both a raised toilet seat and a stand alone commode.
A bracket is attached to the toilet using two bolts once the existing seat is removed. It slides and locks into place on the bracket and, by simply lifting a lever in the back of the seat, it can be removed for cleaning or to be attached to the stand alone commode frame. Hydraulic struts mounted in the seat provide an additional boost to help your new house guest gently lower down onto your toilet, and get off the toilet, and can be adjusted depending on their weight.
An airlift bedside commode features a large, comfortable seating surface and ergonomically designed armrests, and often includes a “guest seat” standard toilet seat. The guest seat can be mounted in place of the airlift using the same bracket and is ideal for when you have company over.
To get in and out of the shower or bathtub, grab bars are essential for safety.
When most people think of bathroom grab bars, the first things that come to mind are a handyman and a big power drill. There is also a newer option; portable suction grab bars can provide your loved ones with a medically safe, sturdy, and completely portable way to steady themselves when getting in and out of the tub or shower.
The suction grab bars secure themselves to completely smooth surfaces using twin suction cups with over 160 pounds of force. Simply clean the surface, apply the suction cups firmly, and flip the levers on the back of each cup. While these are not recommended for pull ups, gymnastics, or hanging a basketball hoop, they will provide a safe, reliable grip to prevent falls.
You may also want to consider a shower chair or bath bench for additional comfort, safety and support.
Mobility Products — Get Up, Get Down, Move Around
If your home has a step or threshold at the entryway, it can make getting in and out the door difficult for your new house guest.
Since getting rid of the threshold is out of the question, and escalators are expensive to install, a threshold ramp is the easiest, safest, and most cost effective solution.
A rubber threshold ramp is an affordable ramp that is not clinical-looking, does not make noise like metal, and does not require a handyman with a drill to install.
Simply cut the threshold ramp to the desired length and width and lay it up against the threshold. It does not require any sort of permanent installation and can be moved out of the way when desired.
Whether they need a walker for use in the house, on the go, or both, you can easily find a versatile and easy-to-use model that will suit their needs.
The Drive Medical Four Wheel Rollator with Fold-Up Removable Back Support is the No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon, with 2,490 customer reviews.
If you’re seeking a safe, convenient aid to improve your daily mobility, a Rollator can be the ideal solution. Wheels make a Rollator a superior option over a standard walker, eliminating the need to lift the device and allowing you to walk with an easy, smooth gait. Walk around town, the mall or your home with ease using this durable, lightweight rollator by Drive Medical.
Rollators are excellent for traveling over uneven, outdoor terrain, making them great for your active, busy lifestyle. And with the built-in padded seat with backrest, you’ll always have a convenient place to rest.
The backrest can be folded up for a more compact rollator when folded or be completely removed with the brass push button release.
The large, removable basket is perfect for carrying your personal items when you’re on the go. The 7.5″ casters are non-marring so they do not leave black scuff marks on your floor.
It’s designed and built for maximum comfort, durability and ease of use with quick folding ability.
The handle height is easily adjustable with a twist of the lever and can be locked into place so you have the proper posture when walking.
Deluxe loop locks are easy to use and can be pulled towards you when breaks are needed when walking. Just push the locks down before you wish to sit on the rollator to lock the unit into place.
Hip surgery, knee surgery, and arthritis can make getting in and out of a recliner or living room chair difficult.
Rather than have to help your loved one up or risk them straining to the point of an arm or shoulder injury, a lift chair is a great way to enable them to sit down or stand up with ease.
At first glance, lift chairs appear to be standard recliners; but with the flip of a switch, the chair’s powerful integrated motor comfortably reclines the chair or lifts the occupant out of it.
The motor is very quiet, operates smoothly, and has an optional battery backup for power outages. Lift chairs are available in an assortment of styles, fabrics, and colors so they can match virtually any room design and can fit people of almost all sizes.
The Bedroom — Rise and Shine, Sleepyhead
Everyone loves their privacy, but if your elderly loved one needs help getting in and out of bed, has problems staying in bed, or is difficult to wake up when needed, privacy can become a thing of the past. With the right independent living products, however, seniors can go about their normal morning and evening routine with little help at all.
Whether the issue is getting in and out of bed, or just staying in bed, a variety of easy-to-install bed rails are available to help with each consumer’s individual needs.
If the issue is staying in bed at night, the Standers EZ Adjust Bed Rail is the ideal choice.
Easy to install and even easier to use, the EZ Adjust Bed Rail can be adjusted to three different lengths (26″, 32″, and 42″) and folds down when not needed.
If they need help getting in and out of bed, two bed rails are available that are easy to install and very versatile.
The Medline Bed Assist Bar With Storage Pocket features a padded, cane-shaped top attached to a board that slides between the mattress and box spring. A strap attaches to the bed frame to hold the board in place and an included organizer keeps useful items at hand.
The Smart Rail System Bed Rail installs on the bed in a similar fashion, but also features two legs that rest on the floor for additional support. The padded handle can be rotated outwards at any angle to make getting in and out of bed easier.
Unlike other rails of this nature that swing at set increments, the Smart Rail’s unlimited rotating ability insures that your loved one gets the ideal angle for support without putting too much strain on your wrist.
Is it time to wake up? If they are a heavy sleeper or cannot hear well, chances are that a gentle knock at the door or that alarm clock that they have had since the first George Bush was president will probably not do the job.
The Sonic Boom Alarm Clock series features alarm clocks in a variety of styles with different features designed to keep any heavy sleeper from sleeping through their alarm. Each one includes a bed shaker which, when placed under the mattress, shakes enough to wake the heaviest sleepers and send most California residents running for shelter.
The tone volume can be adjusted between “subtle” and “wake the neighbors” and is available with or without an AM/FM radio.
The Sonic Boom line of alarm clocks also feature a battery backup for power outages, a snooze button (no one knows why a heavy sleeper would need that), and large digital or analog displays. Some of the clocks are also designed to work with other Sonic Alert devices to notify them when the phone or doorbell rings and to use a flashing lamp as a signal.
Independent Living Products Provide Peace of Mind
When an elderly person has to move in with you, regardless of whether you are their child or grandchild, the sudden change can be difficult for both parties involved. Whether it’s a matter of your loved one giving up their independent lifestyle or you experiencing a big change in your home, the situation can be stressful.
However, the right independent living products can help keep your house relatively unchanged while your loved one maintains an active, safe, and independent lifestyle.
Adapted from an article by Richard Chandler
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