Should My Elder Parent and I Live Together?

By: Michael Toohey, Psy.D. | March 8, 2024

When it becomes clear that one or both of your elderly parents needs an increasing amount of assistance, many adult children find themselves weighing the pros and cons of living with their aging parents. Before you decide to move in with your elderly parents, or move your elderly parents into your home, there are several important factors to consider.

7 Factors to Consider Before Living with Elderly Parents

1. Level of Care

Before you decide to live with an elderly parent, determine the level and type of care they will need. What are their current physical, mental, and medical needs? How are these needs likely to change over the next six months, year, and five years? Are their health issues stable, or is there a high likelihood of future medical concerns or disease based on family history? What type of care do you anticipate in the future if your parent has a degenerative disease? For example, if your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it can change affect their personality over time, for the better or worse, and it’s unlikely that the direction of these changes can be predicted before they occur.

2. Availability of Assistance and Supervision

Conduct an honest assessment about what level of assistance and supervision you, and possibly your spouse and children, can offer your elderly parent. Regardless of their present level of wellness, it is likely that their needs will increase over time. How will this impact your job and daily routines? Realistically, how much energy and time do you have to take on these care-related issues?

3. Adult Child and Parent Relationship Styles

In addition to the practical concerns and medical issues that an older parent may have, it’s also important to consider the relationship between you and your elderly parent or parents. Reflect on how the relationship is now, and how it has been historically. Have you been able to resolve and move on from conflict, or does one or both of you hold grudges? Is your parent critical of you? If the relationship has been strained in the past, it’s unlikely that it will suddenly improve by living together. In addition to assessing your personal relationship with your parent, also consider how your spouse and children relate to them, as well.

4. Home Suitability

For a co-living arrangement to be successful, the home must be suited for elderly care. In the same way we “baby proof” our homes when a baby arrives, we must ensure that our living environment is older-adult friendly, too. Will your parent reside on the first floor? Is there also a bathroom on the first floor? Is the home wheelchair accessible? When you consider the space that your parent will reside, also think about the level of privacy for all family members, not just the older parent.

5. Managing Money and Expenses

A crucial factor to consider when making a change is your financial resources. Will your parent contribute to the household? Are extended family members and siblings able to participate or contribute to the in-home care of the elderly person? Money is an emotionally charged subject for many people. As such, it’s important to discuss finances prior to moving in with an older parent. If financial sacrifices are necessary, ask yourself if you can give up, or delay vacations, or cut into your present savings.

6. Determine Level of Independence

An elderly person’s independence is important to assess now, as well as how it will change in the future. Can your parent make, keep, and travel to appointments by themselves, or do they need physical support? If you work outside the home, who will supervise your parent while you are gone? Does your job offer flexibility in your work schedule to accommodate emergencies and interruptions?

7. Protect Your Self-Care

In addition to caregiving, inform yourself about what it means to be care-receiving. Self-care is a necessary component to assuming the role of caregiver for your elderly parent. To live together successfully, you must take steps to replenish your mind, body, and soul. If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s difficult to care for anyone else. Consider attending support groups, incorporating physical exercise into your daily routine, and adopt a spiritual practice to help you sustain your effort and maintain patience. For more on this topic, read Self-Care for the Caregiver Part 1 and Part 2.

The team at Therapy Changes can also be a part of your self-care plan. There are a multitude of questions to answer when you determine the type of care for your elderly parents that is right for you and your family. Working with a professional San Diego psychologist will help you address your concerns and create a healthy plan.

You don’t have to embark on this important phase of your life alone. Your therapist will work alongside you and provide focused guidance when it’s needed most when you make major decisions and face significant life changes. Contact Us today to learn more about how therapy works and what to expect, and to schedule an appointment.



Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

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