Many of us fortunate enough to have parents in the picture will at some point face the possibility of moving mom or dad into our home, usually because of health or financial reasons. It can feel right for a lot of reasons; you’ve lived together before, after all, and you might be feeling it’s time for you to repay some of the sacrifices your parents made for you at one point. But while this decision might sound pretty simple in those terms, it’s actually one that’s quite nuanced and should be considered very carefully. Here are some questions to consider that can help you evaluate what’s best for everyone involved:
- Do you know the state of Dad’s health? First and foremost, it’s critical to get a clear handle on your parent’s emotional and physical health, ideally from an objective source like his physician. This can be tricky – particularly if Dad feels like you’re stepping over him to talk to the doctor. Make sure to involve Dad in planning for this conversation, and let him know that your goal is to gather as much information as possible so that you can make the best decision together as a team. While you’re at it, be sure to get a sense of a possible trajectory, if Dad has current health concerns. What kind of care is he apt to need 6 months or a year from now, or even five years from now?
- How much time can you give? Here it’s important to be realistic about what responsibilities you’re already carrying. Sit down and go through your days, hour by hour, factoring in commuting time, work hours, childcare demands, carpool and volunteer commitments. Then layer onto that the estimated hours per day attending to Dad’s needs (doctor’s appointments, rides to enrichment programs) – do you realistically have the time it would take to incorporate Dad’s needs into your own, and those of your family?
- Is your house ready for Dad? Think about how your house is laid out; do you have a spare bedroom that’s near a bathroom, and with sufficient storage space? Is the bathroom he’d be using equipped with proper safety precautions, like proper lighting, handrails, and slip-proof flooring?
- Can you afford it? If Dad isn’t able to contribute financially to the living arrangement, you need to get clear on what expenses you’d be incurring. If he needs any kind of home health aid, for example, that can cost on average about $22,000 a year. Check out the AARP and Interest for helpful pieces on how to anticipate these costs.
- How do others in your household feel about this? If you don’t live alone, then you shouldn’t be making this decision alone either. Make it a top priority to involve your spouse, partner, and children in assessing what this change would mean to you individually and as a family. Just talking things through and allowing people to share fears and objections can go a long way in preparing for a smooth transition and neutralizing potentially negative impacts.
- How does Dad feel about it? This last one should be obvious, right? But sometimes we all need to be reminded that the person who might benefit the most still deserves a say in the decision, even if it’s inevitable.
For more helpful information on this topic, visit Caring.com.