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ARTICELS IN THE CULVER CITY NEWS

 

Culver City News

Senior Scene

April 29, 2004

Should Mom Move In?

BY STELLA HENRY

"My wife wants her mother to move in with us. I'm not sure how I feel about this. She only needs a little help now, but what about later?"

Moving an aging parent into your home is a major life change. How do you decide? The decision is not as easy as it used to be. A generation ago, families commonly had positive experiences taking elderly parents into their homes. But now, more women work outside the home. With our more mobile society, extended families often live hundreds, even thousands of miles away. Additionally, the average house today is smaller.

Do you and your parent agree the move is needed and wanted? Or has one of you been persuaded? While opening your home to a parent or an in-law may be done out of love and respect, it may also stem from guilt or a misplaced sense of responsibility. Regardless, the decision cannot be made from the heart but rather must follow thoughtful evaluation. How do other family members (spouse, children, and other adult siblings) feel about the proposal? How much care-giving time will actually be required? What will the impact be on your family life and work schedule? Your peace of mind and your family's stability depend on the answers to these questions.

Loving your parent is no assurance you can live together. As your parent ages, physical and cognitive abilities will become more challenging. Parent-child roles may shift, and your mom may find she has to abide by your rules. Have you considered the effect it will have on your relationship?

  1. Physical living arrangements must be adequate if your parent is to move in.

  2. Will one of your children have to vacate his room for the grandparent?

  3. How will a teenager respond? Can your parent manage stairs?

  4. How much furniture will he or she bring?

  5. Are pets an issue for either of you?

  6. Meal times, social calendars, noise level, and general activity patterns may need adjustment.

  7. Do you plan to help your parent bathe as more care is needed?

  8. Are you equipped to deal with dietary needs?

  9. Will you manage your parent's financial affairs?

  10. Will your parent be invited to all social activities in your home?

  11. Will she be offended by loud music, or perhaps offend with her own loud  TV?

  12.  If you work outside the home, still other questions arise:.

  13. What will you do when your parent can no longer be left alone?

  14. Will cutting back at work result in loss of health or retirement benefits?

  15. How will you go on vacation or travel for business?

  16. What about transportation to medical and dental appointments?

The ultimate question is: Will it be the right and sane decision for you and your family? Be honest. Recognize your limitations as well as those of other family members. If you are unable to sort out mixed feelings, ask for help from a family counselor, clergy, or someone who has "been there."

Despite the challenges, many adult children find that moving their parent into their home is a rewarding experience. Just get a handle on the possible drawbacks ahead of time. And before you make a quick decision on a long-term commitment, remember your first responsibility must be to your spouse and children.

Stella Henry, R.N. B.S.G., L.N.H.A., author of the upcoming book, "The Eldercare Handbook: Difficult Choices, Compassionate Solutions", is an Eldercare Specialist and is a nationally recognized expert on aging who has been featured on NBC-TV, ABC-TV, and National Public Radio, as well as in The New York Times, The Los Angeles, Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street journal.

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