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Dealing With Changing Roles When Mom or Dad Moves In

It can be a difficult transition when the time comes to move your mom or dad into your family home. Open conversations and planning prior is a necessity that creates all types of questions.

Open conversations and planning prior is a necessity that creates all types of questions. Will you be washing everyone’s laundry? Who will be cooking dinner? Shopping for groceries? Because Mom and Dad are moving in with you does that mean that your siblings won’t have to contribute or help drive your parents to doctor’s appointments or other errands? How do you make the transition to your parents moving into your family home when you are now an adult and aren’t living under your parents’ roof? These questions and more will need to be answered.

Moving your parents into your home, especially if your spouse doesn’t have the best relationship with them and if you’re raising your own children can be fraught with emotional minefields. Consider that your parent’s role was the authority figure in your life and when they move in, the balance of power in living arrangements shifts, but old habits die hard. If your parents are dependent on you for care, guidance and living arrangements their loss of autonomy could lead to friction. Moving them in, whether it’s one or both, means you will lose “alone” time with your spouse and children and even for yourself. Your children and spouse may also need to pick up more of the household responsibilities if you find your role as caregiver taking up a lot of your time.

Here are some steps you can take to make the move an easier transition for all involved:

  • Talk with your siblings to make certain that the decision to move your aging parents into one home versus another is agreed upon.
  • Speak to your own family and make certain they are on board for moving the in-laws/grandparents into the family home.
  • Make certain you are emotionally and physically able to take on the role of full time caregiver. Remember, even if they’re moving out of their home and into yours, the need for a personal medical alert system is still an ideal piece of equipment as there will be times when you aren’t home to care for them.
  • Be prepared for your parents to resist this life-altering move. Also, make certain they are involved in the decision making process, don’t just pull up to their house with a moving van!
  • If possible, make allowances for negotiation and compromise when it comes to activities in the home and who will contribute and to what extent, whether monetarily or through household chore contributions.
  • Set boundaries with your parents on their role in the raising of your children. It is a different situation to be a lenient grandparent when visits are limited than when they are living in your home on a daily basis.
  • How can you accommodate the routines your parents have become accustomed to into your daily living? Consider their television or bathing schedules or the times at which they want to eat meals. Also, will you need to become a short order cook and make meals to appease everyone? Can your parents still cook their own meals, or even cook meals for the entire family on occasion?
  • Who will take care of your parents when your family goes on vacation? Will you feel you can take a vacation without your parents? These are items to take into consideration. Keep in mind that you will need to have alone, quality time with your spouse and children and it should be talked about and planned for up-front.
  • If your parents smoke and you don’t (or vice-versa) where will smoking be allowed?
  • How can you accommodate your parent’s social schedule or their participation in activities outside of the home? Keeping them involved in outside activities is beneficial for all involved.

Being aware, from the outset that moving an elderly relative into your home will involve sacrifices on everyone’s part as well as being life-altering emotionally for your parents as they are forced to give up their autonomy will help the transition. Caregivers need to take care of themselves as well as their aging relatives and that will mean taking a “day off” and recruiting friends or family to relieve you.