Your Elderly Parents are Living with You; Now What?

When loved ones age, there may come a time when they can no longer live alone safely. For adult children, this fact may mean that their elderly parents will come live with them. This move will require adjustment from everyone involved, as children will have to assume caregiver responsibilities and parents will have to accept help and direction from their children.

These adjustments can understandably lead to miscommunication, confusion, and frustrations, which causes many people to ask: Just how do you deal with elderly parents living with you in your own home?

How Do You Cope with Elderly Parents Living with You?

New living situations can be stressful for anyone; elderly parents moving in with their adult children is no exception. Fortunately, there are ways to make this transition easier for all involved.

Step 1. Set Boundaries

Before anything else happens, it’s necessary to set boundaries. For adult children, that means recognizing their own limits as family caregivers and firmly communicating to their parents what caregiving duties they will and will not do, as well as if they expect their parents to help out financially.

Family caregivers can ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do you expect your aging loved one to help out financially? How much? How will the expenses be accounted for?
  • What happens if you are injured and can no longer physically care for your loved one?
  • Who will assume caregiving responsibilities if you want a vacation or have to be away for work?
  • Are there certain caregiving responsibilities that you absolutely refuse to accept? What are they?
  • What happens if your loved one becomes incapacitated? Is power of attorney established?

Step 2. Discuss Finances

Eldercare, even at-home support provided by family members, can be expensive. Waiting until tensions are high to discuss finances will only make the conversation that much more stressful; that’s why it’s a good idea to discuss finances as early as possible.

During this time, it’s a good idea for the elderly parents to square away their finances with their lawyer. This ensures that their assets will be used how they want if they later become incapacitated. That planning can mean, for example, establishing power of attorney for their children or other primary caregivers.

Step 3. Get Respite Care

Becoming a primary caregiver can be exhausting. In fact, according to the CDC, unpaid caregivers (usually family members) have higher risk of mental and physical health issues as well as increased risk of early death. So, while adult children obviously need to take their parents’ needs into consideration, they cannot do so while completely ignoring their own needs.

For many caregivers, respite care is a lifeline.

Respite care, as the name suggests, offers a period of respite from caregiving duties. That can mean:

  • having elderly parents enter an assisted living facility for a brief period of time,
  • practicing self-care in their downtime to reduce caregiver burnout,
  • enlisting the help of siblings or an in-law,
  • entering a support group for unpaid caregivers, or
  • enrolling elderly parents in an adult daycare program.

Step 4. Make the Home Safe and Accessible

Most living spaces need some adjustments before an older adult can safely move in. There are several ways to achieve that level of safety.

  • Putting grab bars in strategic locations, such as the bathroom, can help seniors ambulate easier and reduce the risk of slips and falls.
  • Installing a stairlift can also make moving about the home a safer experience.
  • Removing clutter from walkways to reduce the risk of falling.

Of course, these are just three examples of ways to prioritize safety when caring for elderly parents.

Step 5. Hire Help

Caregiving is a full-time job.

If resources allow, hiring professional help can go a long way to reducing the odds of caregiver burnout and ensuring that the needs of the older adult are met. It’s a win-win situation.

A geriatric care manager can help families make their homes and lifestyles safer for older relatives. A geriatric care manager is a type of hired eldercare help, often a registered nurse or social worker, that can help a family manage their eldercare needs.

Duties of a geriatric care manager can include, but are not limited to, the following:

People can use an Eldercare Locator to find these managers and other senior care resources in their area.

What is the Cost of a Parent Living with You?

Some experts estimate that families spend nearly $7,000/year in the United States on caregiving expenses for their aging relatives. Here are a few considerations to help offset this cost:

Can You Claim Elderly Care on Taxes?

Yes, in some cases, it’s possible to claim eldercare expenses on taxes. However, there are strict parameters for what counts as a deductible expense, and all deductions must be itemized.

Can You Claim Your Mother as a Dependent If She Receives Medicare?

In some cases, it’s possible to claim an elderly parent as a dependent for tax purposes, even if the parent receives Medicare.

Should Aging Parents Live with You?

Man in Blue Button Up Shirt Sitting Beside Woman in Red Shirt
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Sometimes it’s better to ask not when parents should move in, but if they should at all. What works for one family may not work for another, after all.

One family, for instance, might have an elderly relative move in because the younger relatives are financially well off and live nearby. That solution to eldercare might not work for a family that is struggling financially or for one whose family members live far away.

When deciding if aging parents should move in, adult children should ask themselves tough questions, including the following:

  • Do you have the money to financially support your parents at home?
  • Would having parents move in negatively impact your mental health?
  • Do you have the physical space for other family members to move in?
  • Are you physically able to handle the demands of caregiving?
  • Do you have the time to look after your aging relatives?
  • Would having your parents move in damage your relationship with them?

It’s okay for adult children to forgo becoming their parents’ primary caregivers; what’s important is finding an eldercare solution that works best for the entire family.

When Should Elderly Parents Stop Living Alone?

When elderly parents can no longer care for themselves and ensure their own safety, it’s time to discuss having them move in with a relative or into a long-term care facility.

One common way for people to determine whether or not older adults can live alone is if they can complete activities of daily living, or ADLs, by themselves. ADLs are activities that people need to complete on a day-to-day basis to ensure a decent quality of life, such as bathing and toileting. When someone requires help with ADLs, it’s a sign that living alone without help is no longer a safe living arrangement.

In these cases, even if it’s a difficult decision, the right choice might be to move your elderly relatives into an assisted living community.

Are You Legally Responsible for Your Aging Parents?

People have a responsibility to ensure that their parents are neither neglected nor otherwise abused. Outside of that, there are often no laws requiring someone to take responsibility for their aging parents. There are exceptions to this general rule, however.

There are currently 27 states (and Puerto Rico) that have what are known as filial responsibility laws. These laws mean that adult children can become responsible for their older parents’ expenses in certain cases.

Final Thoughts

There may come a time when elderly parents will move in with their adult children. This transition can be difficult for everyone, and sometimes parents moving in with their children may not even be the right solution. In some cases–such as when an older adult has advanced dementia the best solution is to have the aging adult move into a senior care community, such as a memory care or assisted living facility.

The process of finding the best senior living community for an older loved one is hard. This process can be simplified by browsing Caring Advisor’s directory of thousands of senior living communities across the United States, where we show what each location offers and at what price points, all in an easy-to-understand fashion.