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Should Aging Parents Live with You?

Published by Nanni on Monday, October 15, 2012

Photo credit by zsoltika

One of the benefits of advancements in medicine and healthier lifestyles is that Americans have a longer life-expectancy than ever before. This has resulted in younger Baby Boomers being referred to as "the Sandwich Generation"-- often caring for their own children and their parents at the same time. A good way to look at it is that if you consider it a burden, it will be-- but if you consider it a blessing, it can be a very positive experience for everyone involved.

There is no uniform answer to the question of whether one should take aging parents into one's home. There are some very important factors to consider, in order to decide whether this is the best step for your family. When you put some careful thought into these factors, it will increase the likelihood of making the best decision.

First, it is rarely a good idea for elderly people to live alone in their own homes. While there are exceptions, most elderly people need some degree of supervision in order to avoid unnecessary accidents, even if they do not require any assistance in their daily lives. Second, while more and more elderly people balk at the prospect of being placed in a longterm care facility, more and more adult-aged children are in agreement with their stand.

One of the most important factors to consider if you are thinking about taking your aging parent into your home is the status of his health. This means both his physical and mental health. If your parent requires constant supervision, or if he has a health condition which you are not adequately prepared to deal with, taking him to live with you may not be in either his or your best interest. For example, the parent who has Alzheimer's, or a medical condition which requires skilled nursing treatment, would be better off in a facility where this type of care can be provided on a consistent basis. You should not feel guilty if you cannot provide the type of care he needs.

A second factor to consider is your parent's basic temperament. Many elderly people become cantankerous and difficult, simply because they have trouble adjusting to not being able to do everything for themselves as they did in the past. They may resent your help, and resent it even more if it means they must leave their home to move into yours. If you realize that this is to be expected, the transition from their own care to yours can be much easier. However, caring for your elderly parent in your home can be a negative experience for everyone concerned if his temperament has a negative effect on your family. Some elderly parents like to cause friction between their adult-aged child and the spouse; others attempt to take over the parenting role to the children in the home. Fortunately, all it usually takes is thinking about how your parent has interacted with you, your spouse, and your children during recent years, in order to assess whether this would be a problem for your family.

In the absence of legitimate personality-clashes or medical conditions which require skilled nursing, the decision to have your aging parent live with you can indeed be a blessing. Your mother or father put years into making your early life as good as it could possibly be. Now you have the opportunity to do the same for him or her.

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