Adding an elderly family member to your household can bring up many unanswered questions. Before bringing your loved one into your space, it’s important to create a plan that addresses these crucial questions and preserves your relationships and mental health.
In this three-part blog series, we’ll address 15 key plan points to help you create a sustainable plan for transitioning your family member to your home.
1. Who will oversee medications and take your loved one to doctors appointments?
Being honest with yourself about your ability to provide medical and daily care for your loved one in the beginning will save you from burning out too quickly and panicking to find help at the last minute.
Divide it up: Splitting up doctors visits between yourself and other family members based on appointment type helps to keep things consistent and share the workload. For instance, you could handle all cardiologist appointments and your partner can take care of primary care visits.
Be sure to take notes during the appointments and email or text them to all involved family members so everyone can stay on the same page.
Get organized: Creating a medication chart to share with family members who are helping with medical appointments will be a huge time saver. Be sure to include a picture of each medication, dosage, timing and the purpose.
You’ll also need to implement a medication labeling system that works for you and your loved one. Pill packs are available and highly recommended if your family member will be alone throughout the day and responsible for self-administering their medication. This can greatly reduce the chances of incorrectly taken medications and the potentially disastrous effects.
Providing round-the-clock personal care to your family member is time consuming and even harder if they’re of the opposite gender. Depending on the level of care they need, it may be necessary to hire or arrange for additional daily help from family members or professional services to ensure you’re not overwhelmed.
2. Who will give you a break or some time off?
You’re definitely going to need to recharge your batteries. This isn’t anything to feel guilty about and you deserve it, at least a couple hours per week. Finding family members or local services that can help cover when you will be out of the home is imperative.
If your family member is safe to travel, having them visit other family members or friends is a much needed break for both of you.
If not, a true vacation with multiple days or weeks off is still possible for you with respite services. These caregivers are designed to help give you time off and make sure your loved one is cared for in your absence.
3. Are you prepared to be their caregiver, not just their relative?
Family members can often be more resistant to your help than that of an outside caregiver. It’s important to mentally and emotionally prepare for this potential defiance. It’s just the way family works and reminding yourself that “it’s not you!” is crucial.
Sometimes it’s more important to be a loving family member rather than a frustrated caregiver. Knowing what services are available in your area and how much they cost can help you prioritize the areas where you’re going to need more help. You can hire caregivers to help your loved one with personal hygiene, medications, therapy and more.
4. Are you prepared to contribute to their financial needs?
Money is a tricky subject and needs to be addressed by all members of the household, ensuring everyone involved understands how money is spent.
Even though moving a family member in with you can be more affordable than a nursing home or assisted living facility, there can still be an increased cost. Even with social security checks coming in, it often doesn’t cover all of an individual's needs. Not only will bills and groceries go up, additional equipment may be needed for your loved one to be comfortable. Medications can also be pricey and that’s just needs; your loved one may still want to purchase gifts for others or spend freely on themselves.
It’s important to have a transparent financial discussion with your loved one and other family members. Opening these lines of communication regarding your finances and the impact the move will have paves the way for proper budgeting and reduces potential conflict.
Real talk: I had to take away my parents credit cards because they were spending way beyond their means. It was tough, but finally they accepted that they just had to ask for what they needed. It’s another loss of independence that we forget about, so keeping your loved one involved in their financial decisions as long as possible will be of huge benefit to their sense of control.
5. Are you prepared to change your home set-up?
Your loved one may require a little extra help in various rooms around your home and it’s best to look at the short, intermediate and long term before investing in temporary or permanent modifications. It’s also important to consider how these modifications will impact shared spaces for the whole family.
When looking at the immediate future, simple solutions like grab bars near the toilet and shower and shower chairs are great first steps. For an intermediate timeline, an entrance ramp or stairlift may be needed to help your family member move about the home with more confidence.
Full-scale remodels can come later (if at all) and we strongly advise getting a full home assessment completed prior to your loved one moving in with you to ensure their surroundings are as safe as possible from the very start.
Our home modification evaluations and referrals make these updates affordable and easy to have installed quickly by a certified aging in place specialist.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series where we’ll cover your loved one’s needs and the decisions they are still able to make.