How to Handle an Elderly Parent Living With You

by Lucie Westminster

    To help your elderly parents, you recently made the difficult choice to invite them to come and live with you and your family. By 2030, the number of adults over the age of 65 will account for nearly 20 percent of America's population, predicts the Administration on Aging. This statistic means that as the years progress, more families will be faced with the challenge of caring for an elderly parent. You, like thousands of other adults, must learn to deal with the special concerns that accompany that choice.

    Grandma or Grandpa moving in is a big step for you as well as your family. Not only does having an elderly parent around affect your daily routines and relationships, it also may affect your children. Encourage all family members to play a role in your parent's care. Young children can help with chores such as light cleaning of Grandma's room, and older children can help prepare some meals. The point is to share the responsibility among the family and include them when assessing your parent's needs, reports Dr. Ann-Marie Rosland in her book "Sharing the Care: The Role of Family in Chronic Illness." Keep everyone informed as to your parent's changing routines and needs as your mother or father continues to age.

    Reducing stress is crucial when you have an aging parent living with you. Talking about possible financial issues isn't being negative; it's getting prepared. Financial concerns are best addressed rather than ignored, reports the American Association for Retired People (AARP). Ensure you budget for extra food and utilities since you now have at least one additional person living with you. You should discuss these issues with your financial planner, partner and your parent, if he is able to comprehend the situation. For possible financial assistance, examine programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which may help defray the cost of your parent's expenses or medical bills.

    You can't be a quality caregiver if you aren't also taking care of yourself. Running yourself down and letting the stress get the best of you will leave you ill and unable to properly help your elderly parent. Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D. suggests seeking out a support group in your area or some type of respite care for your parent. The latter allows you to take some vacation or family time without the worry of leaving your parent. Staying positive also reduces your stress level. Instead of focusing on the additional time or expense living with an elderly parent creates, view it as a special time for your children, who will get to spend more time with Grandpa, something they will cherish for years to come.

    Examine your living situation and ensure your home environment is safe for an elderly parent. Evaluate your bathroom for appropriate grab bars near the toilet and in the shower. You may need to install these items as well as in a special toilet seat and shower stool. Entering and exiting the house may become an issue if mobility issues arise, so consider a ramp or chairlift, suggests AARP. Doing so reduces the chance that your parent will get hurt while living with you. In addition, set your own limits regarding what you can handle without professional or outside help. Speak to your parent's doctor for a list of organizations providing assistance in your community. Programs like Medicare's PACE and state home health agencies may allow you to receive extra help, even within your own home.

    About the Author

    Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

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