Family & Education

When Your Elders Move In With You

They raised you, and now they need your help, compassion, and care. Here's how to welcome and care for them with dignity and grace
BY Bill Lindsey TIMEJune 28, 2022 PRINT

Respect is earned, and our elders earned it by raising us. As we all age, there may come a time when they need our assistance. Be the one to reach out, easing the discomfort they may feel acknowledging they need a helping hand.

Return the Favor

As children, it’s too easy to take the efforts of our parents, uncles, aunts, and older siblings for granted. We relied on them always being there to lend a hand, now they need our assistance. The news may be full of stories of adult children moving back with their parents, but for you, it’s the opposite. The genuine heartfelt welcome you need to extend and clear willingness to share your space and life, however, is the same.

See Their Side

Taking elderly or special-needs relatives into your home will absolutely call for changes and adjustment on your part, but take a moment to consider how they might feel. After a lifetime in their own home, it’s only natural for elderly relatives to feel uprooted and disturbed to find themselves in a place that’s new to them, surrounded by you, your children, and even your pets. Make it a point to be respectful and accommodating to help them get comfortable.

Include Them in Activities

The best way to make older family members feel at home is to let them be involved, helping to the extent they can do so with chores such as cooking, cleaning, or maybe taking care of the kids or pets. Take them along on trips to the grocery store or the mall. If they are interested in doing so, invite them to attend church services and school recitals. Let them play a role in planning vacations.

Make the Home Elder-Safe

Just as we baby- and toddler-proof homes, a similar review is needed when older relatives move in. Take a hard look at pathways to eliminate soft spots or wobbly pavers that could lead to a fall; look at steps and consider adding safety railings; and if you have a pool, consider adding a safety fence. Install nightlights in hallways and on stairs to increase safety after dark. You may need to make a bathroom door wider to accommodate walkers or a wheelchair; plan ahead.

Be Honest

At some point, there may be issues that may be too much for you to deal with. Dementia or requirements for advanced medical care may be beyond the abilities of you and your family. Wanting to be there for elderly relatives is admirable, but don’t blind yourself to reality. If you can do so, consider bringing in assistance. If that isn’t possible, for the well-being of your relative, you will need to explore assisted-living facilities.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
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