Categorized | Family Care

How to survive bringing an elderly parent to live with you

By Douglas Peck

Few things can be can be more stressful and disruptive to a household than having an elderly parent move in. Eating and sleeping times may change. Menus become altered as new likes and dislikes are accommodated. TV programs are different and even the volume is now at a record level most of the time. The physical environment may change as bedrooms are moved, bathrooms are modified and hallways are cleared to reduce the chance for a fall or make room for a walker.

With these changes to the environment come the emotional changes as well. Roles become reversed. You as a son or daughter now become both a guardian and a caregiver. You may be paying the parents bills and handling their savings. You take them to doctor’ s appointments and often sit in to listen to the doctor explain things to make sure you understand what is going on. On the surface, these seem to be small adjustments but they are often done in a time of crisis due to an illness or some unexpected event such as the passing of a spouse and that adds another emotional layer to what is usually an already complex family dynamic.

While there are no easy answers as each situation is different, there are some guidelines that can help make this a better transition:

•Remember, this is difficult for all people involved, particularly the elderly parent. You and your family may be having your routine disrupted but they just had their whole life turned upside down. The last thing they want is to be a burden to anyone but if you treat them as a child that is exactly how they will feel.

•Talk with them and listen to what they have to say, what they want. Give them a voice in everything that affects them. Treat them as an adult who is going through a crisis.

•Don’ t be afraid to ask for help. This is probably the hardest thing for many people to do but there are many resources available in the community, from your church to the local senior center as well as online that can help.

•Give yourself a break. Bring some help into the home. You will need some time away, even if it is only going out to lunch and shopping with friends. You don’ t have to feel guilty about enjoying yourself.

•Manage your attitude. Yes, this may have come at a bad time but you have a choice. You can resent the situation or use it as an opportunity for you and your family to get to know the elderly parent better and make them feel as an important and welcome member of the family. Your decisions here will affect how everything else falls into place.

Doug Peck, CSA is a Certified Senior Advisor and the owner of Seniors Helping Seniors of Metrowest. He can be reached at 508-485-1765. Visit their website at Archives of articles from previous issues can be read on


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