Our seniors are a precious and vulnerable generation. They need our loving and devoted support as they age. Unfortunately, the concept of senior living and moving is a delicate and challenging process to navigate.
For many adult children, the idea of moving an aging parent into their home feels like the ultimate expression of family. From an above perspective, it seems like a win-win situation where grandparents get to be closer to their grandchildren, and adult children take a crucial role in the care of their aging parents. On the ground, though, things can be more complicated.
While multigenerational living is standard in other parts of the world, it requires some attention and planning to execute.
With that in mind, here’s what you can expect when you move your aging parent into your home.
Why Multi-generational Living is Ideal for Seniors
Although it’s true that senior living and moving does come with its own set of difficulties, there are also many benefits to pay attention to. The first benefit is that it reduces isolation in seniors.
According to the US Census Bureau, 11 million people ages 65 and older are living alone. As people age, the likelihood of living alone increases. For senior adults who do not have children, or for those who don’t have any family in the vicinity, living alone can create isolation. While the term isolation is often used interchangeably with solitude, the two are not the same thing. Isolation can be a real risk factor for seniors.
Not only does senior isolation increase the risk of mortality, but feeling lonely can have adverse effects on health. Finally, isolation in seniors contributes to dementia and cognitive decline. Studies have shown that seniors who live in isolation have subpar cognitive performance.
There’s also a link between social isolation and long-term illness. Some studies have found that isolated seniors have a higher risk of chronic conditions like lung disease, arthritis, decreased mobility, and depression. While in-home care, phone calls, and visits can do a great deal to alleviate these issues, only continuous companionship with a spouse or loved ones can reduce the risk entirely.
The 5 Potential Challenges of Senior Living and Moving
1. Relocation Stress Syndrome
Relocation Stress Syndrome, also known as “transfer trauma,” is a diagnosis that has been popping up in the last ten years of the medical world.
The syndrome is characterized by symptoms including but not limited to:
These symptoms often appear after a senior moves to a senior living community or out of their own home. For most seniors, relocation stress shows up right before the move, or within the first three months of moving.
If you’re worried your loved one might suffer from relocation stress syndrome while moving, there are a couple of things you can do once you recognize the symptoms.
Because the symptoms can sometimes mimic dementia, misdiagnosis is possible. Be aware of this to ensure your loved one gets the care they need. Therapy, social groups, and maintenance of old routines can all be helpful.
2. A New Family Dynamic
Even if you have a close relationship with your parents, moving them into your home creates a new family dynamic. This is especially true if you have young children. In most families, it’s inevitable that the transition will cause stress and create a difficult adjustment period. The best way to approach this is to maintain open lines of communication.
Before you move your parent into your house, sit down with your spouse and discuss plans for things like cooking, finances, responsibilities. If your parent is still capable, you may ask them to help with some of these responsibilities or offer some childcare in exchange for their living in your home. Seniors enjoy feeling like contributors, so giving them an opportunity to help can empower them which is helpful for them physically, mentally and emotionally.
However, if your parent has dementia or has otherwise limited capabilities, your family will have to work together to come up with an arrangement that works for everybody.
3. Finances & Tax Consequences
If your parent does not have any savings or income, it’s likely that taking them into your home will create at least some measure of financial stress for you and your partner. As a result, it’s essential to discuss these things and make a plan for them in advance. While talking about finances can be difficult, it’s essential to ensure a smooth transition for everybody.
As far as your taxes are concerned, the expenses you incur as a result of your parents stay, such as increased utility bills and grocery expenses, can be deducted from that income.
If you claim your parent as a dependent on your tax forms, you may be able to qualify for a tax break, assuming that your parent does not have gross income that limits this option.
4. The Need for Additional Space
If your home is already full of children, you may need to make new arrangements when it comes time to move your parent in. Although some households have extra space, like a guest apartment, or guest house, most are limited to the bedrooms they have.
This means it’s time to get creative or make some sacrifices. Your children, who once enjoyed their own bedrooms may have to move back in together. Loft beds and bunk beds are a great way to maximize space. If grandma is taking over the guest room, if may be a good idea to look into installing a Murphy bed in the office to accommodate other guests in the future.
Otherwise, you may need to look into remodeling or expanding your home to accommodate your senior. Be sure that you talk this out thoroughly with your spouse and make adequate financial plans.
Senior Living and Moving, Made Simple
If you’re like many adult children, the idea of being able to participate in your parents’ care is very comforting. That said, senior living and moving does come with some challenges.
Fortunately, you can limit the impact of these challenges by being as prepared as possible.
This means having an open discussion with your spouse and parents about living arrangements and money, understanding the complications of their health, being prepared to accept a new dynamic in your house, and having a plan for helping them downsize. When all these things come together, it’s possible to enjoy multigenerational living at its finest.
Need assistance with your upcoming move? Contact the team at Colonial Van Lines today!