Setting Healthy Boundaries When a Parent Moves In
Sometimes, the decision to move an aging parent or other family elder into your home is borne of necessity. It could be a short-term solution while the senior recuperates from an illness or injury. The goal is to help your loved one rehabilitate and return to their home feeling healthier and stronger.
In other situations, the move might be a longer-term solution. A parent with memory loss or a chronic health condition may not be safe living alone any longer. Moving in with family might be something you feel is worth trying.
Whichever situation it is, one step you need to take before they arrive in your home is setting healthy boundaries for everyone.
Issues to Discuss Before a Senior Loved One Moves In
Here are a few issues for you to consider and discuss ahead of time:
- Caregiving expectations: Just because your senior loved one lives with you doesn’t mean that you and your family has to shoulder all of the responsibilities of caregiving. Your siblings can still help with transportation to appointments, picking up prescriptions, and providing hands-on care. Be sure to convey to your family that you need their support for this to work.
- Create private spaces: Unless your home has a dedicated in-law suite, a loss of privacy is an important factor to consider. If possible, create private spaces for each family member, including your senior loved one, to retreat to.
- Don’t give up your life: It’s important that you and your own family maintain your lives. Stay connected to friends and social organizations you enjoy. Take vacations with your spouse and children. Doing so will give your siblings an opportunity to enjoy one-on-one time with the senior you all care for. If other family members aren’t able to stay for extended periods of time, they might be able to pay for a private in-home caregiver or for respite care at an assisted living community to give you a break.
- Avoid falling into negative childhood patterns: Family dynamics can be tricky. Once you are under the same roof again, you might find some of the more negative behavior patterns returning. Or you might find yourself asking your parent for permission on things that, as a head of the house, are your decisions to make. Try to maintain positive, adult relationships with healthy boundaries for everyone.
- Discuss finances and budget: This might be difficult if you grew up in a household where money wasn’t talked about. But it is important to have a good understanding of your parent’s budget and what additional expenses you might be incurring. If this is a long-term move that will require home modifications, agree ahead of time on what will be done and who will pay.
Our final suggestion is to be aware that the day might come when this solution no longer makes sense. The senior might require more assistance than can safely be provided at home, or your own family’s needs might change. Agree among yourselves that if that day arrives, you will work together to explore local senior living communities and find one that is a good fit.