Love them or loath them, you only get one family and as parents get older, the time may come when roles reverse. Making the decision to move an older family member into your home can be one of the toughest in your life.
These questions are a good starting point to help understand the potential impact of the move and ensure the right decision is made for all involved.
How will it affect everyone living at home?
Before making decisions, the family needs to sit down and think about how everyone will fit together under the same roof. Does your partner get along with your mum or dad? How will they feel living in such close proximity?
Children will react differently to having a new person around. Some will just see another bedtime story-reader, but others may feel their privacy has been invaded, and get embarrassed when they find false teeth in a jar by the bed or the latest copy of Pick Me Up! in the bathroom.
How much time do you have on your hands?
Even if you are happy to slightly put your life on hold, don’t assume everyone will be able to give up as much time to lend a helping hand. You’ll need to make time for yourself too. Whether it’s a few pints down the local or a long soak in the tub, having some breathing space is important.
Do you have the space?
In an ideal world, granny would live above the garage in a self-contained flat, but for most families this is not an option. You may have a spare room that can be put to good use but if not, clear out the attic (not to put granny in) study or garage.
Rent a self-storage unit to store bulky furniture and less used items, freeing up space to work with when planning their living space. The space could also be used to safely store an antique grandfather clock or favourite rocking chair. With stores located across London, and 24/7 access, you can assure granny her prized possessions are never too far away.
Have you parent-proofed your home?
Much like baby-proofing, think about how safe it would be for an elderly person to live in your home. Do you have handles in your bathrooms or an accessible downstairs toilet? Do you need to put locks on medicine cupboards, or install a chairlift?
Pre-planning before the move should help them settle-in quicker and feel less of a nuisance around the house.
What level of care will they need day-to-day?
With age comes challenges that you won’t have previously experienced at home. Will you need to help get them in and out of bed every day? Lifting another person is physically demanding and may end in injury if not done properly.
Some situations can be awkward – would you be at ease bathing a parent or giving them medication on a daily basis? Everyone needs to feel comfortable and confident that they can deal with these tasks if they are to become part of family life.
Could this affect your relationship with your own brothers or sisters?
The move will likely bring you and your own family closer but could potentially be tough for your siblings to cope with, especially if they live far away.
Ensure they’re kept in the loop on big decisions and try to organise visits whenever possible to keep the family unit strong. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to making such a big decision. Get the whole family to sit down and chat through any questions or worries before any decisions are made, encouraging everyone to be honest and open.
Have you had to make the decision on whether to move an elderly family member into your home? What did you find the easiest and hardest aspect of the decision, and why?