As one or both of your parent’s age, they may start to find issues with independent living. To help them continue living the best way possible way a level of support is often necessary. If you have decided that living and moving in with you is optimum then a big change for all is inevitable. Here are 10 tips that may help make the journey ahead enjoyable and less stressful
- 1/ Time, time to talk through the whole logistics, giving peace of mind for all involved
- 2/ Collaboration with Professional movers and parents
- 3/ Discussions and help sorting possessions, what stays, goes or is put in storage
- 4/ Finance – How to logistically fund the change necessary to a new house
- 5/ Prepping your home in readiness for one or both of your parents
- 6/ Renovations to current house to enable Independent living – If necessary, carry out prior to move
- 7/ Family Bonding – Care and transparency over social interaction. Wallchart all appointments
- 8/ Privacy & Boundaries – For all Family
- 9/ Socially engaging with the community – Research what is available in your area & encourage interaction
- 10/ Give yourself time to adjust – This may include bags of tolerance and patience (for all concerned)
So you have read 10 tips but you know this is not as simple as, “ok let’s just get on with it” There will be some huge hurdles to overcome but if you, the family and your parents are looking at this as a positive step forward then let’s look at how you might achieve moving your elderly parents into your house in a stress-free way as possible. Research is key.
I recently assisted my 87-year-old mother to downsize from a 4-bed house in an area she had lived in all her life to a 1 bedroom bungalow close to me (some 2 hours away from everything she knew) Along the way we researched many of the steps above to enable my mother and her dog a safe and as seamless a move as possible.
1/ Time To Talk – Having The Courageous Conversations
This is a huge step for all concerned and talking through the logistics in an organised and time-bound manner will give peace of mind. You may find compliance one day and resistance the next. This because the change is immense and not many of us seem to like change and what seems a wonderful idea one day will be too daunting for them the next. You can appease their concerns by giving them the time for discussions and having “Brave and Courageous conversations”.
It goes without saying that all members of the family have to be involved and agree on the changes, they all need to be fully on side with this next chapter. However, the “Grandchildren” are likely to fully embrace the idea. Having Grandparents around is often something the grandkids find comforting and a bit of a gift. They will often see them as co-conspirators and enjoy unconditional love. A bit like having “Good Cop” close at hand when you have to be “Bad Cop”
2/ Organizing & or Collaborating With The Professional Teams
Prior to any move, there is an inevitable amount of research then agreeing on a way forward with the Professional Contractors. There may be a fair amount of “grind and grunt work” this can easily be handled by family members if your parents are not too keen on phoning or emailing. There are some great spreadsheets which list the order you need to arrange what and when. I will attach for you to consider the one we recently swore by.
Downsizing is almost certainly going to be key in this topic. Discussions and lots of patience are likely to be necessary for this to be completed with ease. An element of ruthlessness has to be applied and is perhaps achieved one room at a time with the least important room first. Encourage your parent/s to take some responsibility for the keeping, chucking and packing, but there can be zero tolerance to hoarding at this stage. There are even professional “de-clutters who can make the transition less emotional and personal.
The “Three box” rules still apply, Keep, Recycle, Chuck. But you now need to add an additional box that will be for long term storage. Again there are excellent deals on the market for your parents in the event they feel unable to let certain items go. However, it can be an expensive option so it’s worth costing to indicate to your parents how this will affect their finances. But perhaps you could suggest for a one-year time frame for the storage and if after a year the items have not been missed then maybe consider recycling or at the very least do another “De-Clutter” it is likely to reduce by at least 50%
This can take the Fear Factor and sadness out of letting things go.
4/ Finance – Independent Living
For your parents to feel in charge of their own life they have to have as much independent living as possible. This can be assisted and achieved by some form of financial freedom. Selling their house will hopefully free up a large amount of cash this can go toward any renovations necessary to assist easy and safe living at yours. For example a * first-floor bedroom and bathroom with easy access shower. If they are risk-averse to selling the house perhaps consider renting, giving them a regular monthly income may also offer some form of security. The latter may be time-consuming and if possible left to management agents to let and manage the house. Yes, they will take a commission but the responsibility will be theirs.
Discussions are again a key part as is more research
5/ Prepping Your Home
I alluded to renovations necessary for a safe arrival for your parents. Just like any new arrival, albeit a parent, dog or new baby; prepping your home for this newcomer is important and high on my list of top tips.
If you are unable to afford or don’t have the room for renovations then prepping your house is very important. In fact recently I had a foot operation and was housebound and only able to use one leg (for 10 weeks.) This gave me insight into the debilitating effects a disabled or elderly person has to deal with on a day by day basis.
Starting with the bathroom – Ideally, a shower, a collapsible stool situated in the shower will allow safe standing. If standalone shower is not possible then ensure handrails on the bath and have a bath shower attachment. Low-level night lights throughout the house is again key.
Going To The Toilet
- a chair with a hidden toilet (commode) – if getting to the toilet is difficult
- push button to flush the toilet
- raised toilet seat
Cooking and eating
- a kettle with a holder to make it easy to pour
- knives and forks with special handles to make them easy to hold
- easy to grip jugs or graters
- cups with 2 handles
Rails outside the front and back door.
Your parents may require more or less support than the above. To consider all the options available to make your house parent-friendly I would suggest looking at some of the Senior Living Websites or Care.org sites. Click on the attached link for elderly and disability aids to purchase online.
This would ideally be achieved before your parent/s move into the house. Discussions surrounding what they would like, what can be achieved are really useful. A separate annexe with its own front door would be ideal. In the first instance talking to an architect or building contractor is a good place to start as they are likely to have built, designed and considered many options previously and will know what does and doesn’t work. Having visuals by way of drawings or designs on the computer will bring to life their new living space and keeps everyone included.
I found a lot of inspiration was gained by visiting “Supported New Build” houses. They will have implemented support systems that are out of our imagination and yet maybe a simple construction, for example lower kitchen units for chair-bound clients. It was seeing the flow of these properties and the big bathrooms which helped my Mother make the decisions she did in renovating her one-bed Bungalow
7/ Family Bonding
Taking the time to find a new way of living is going to be a huge change. Starting with simple logistics like a BIG family wall planner. Encourage all to add their various engagements to the planner. Critical appointments for your parent/s should be added in bold so as not to miss them. There are many types of planners on the market and is a worthwhile investment, wipe down is preferable. We have a great big 3 foot by 3 foot attached to the Kitchen Wall.
Patience, Tolerance and choosing your battles will hopefully make the transition easier
But ensure privacy and boundaries are in place from the outset.
8/Privacy & Boundaries
Create a separate space for your parents. Offering privacy allows them to feel they still live an independent life even though you all live together. Privacy is also important for you and the children and thus setting boundaries about what is important to you as a family will allow for a greater feeling of independence and far less stressful for all concerned. Discuss from the outset what is and isn’t important to your ageing parents and what is and isn’t important to you and the family. Agreeing on a way you can all peacefully live together and sticking to the boundaries set out at the outset is much easier than trying to address an issue when there are tensions and emotions involved.
For my number 8 tip we have looked at Boundaries, Patience and Tolerance, if agreed and practised from the outset will go some way to make harmonious living possible.
9/ Socially Engaging with The Community.
Encourage your parent/s to engage socially with the local community. There are often community Hubs, which include many varied types of activities, often including things like “Lunch Club, Art Class, Bingo Afternoons, escorted Days out or as in the case of our local village (pre covid), they run a little bus which takes them an out of town retail park which includes Marks & Spencer, big supermarket and an Ikea look alike. In addition, they will run transfers to and from the Hospital in the event Mom has to attend without me.
Local community centres offer simple human connection, allowing them to make new friends and can make the difference between someone feeling isolated and dependent to someone who feels they have a purpose and can wake up and look forward to the next social event. In addition, the space it provides is beneficial for all in both mental and emotional well-being.
You can usually find information on your local Facebook Group, the library, or a general search on Google.
* I have written a blog post about Hobbies for older woman. which you may find useful. Click on the link for further information
10/ Give Yourself & The Family Time To Adjust
Plan in advance for the adjustment period of living with your parents. It will obviously be nothing like the time when you lived at home. Give your elderly parent/s, your family some slack and you time to adjust. As previously mentioned. Patience, tolerance and choosing your battles will hopefully give you some wonderful times together allowing you all to create new memories.
Mom tells me at least once a week, she is so pleased she made the move, she felt so alone despite being surrounded by friends as I was hours away and only able to visit once every two weeks. seeing her once a month. When she had an accident and was hospitalized and we were unable to give her the daily support when discharged, she had care coming in daily but it was far from ideal. During this time we all sat down and looked at how Mom could relocate. That was a year ago, lots of hurdles including the de-cluttering, building work, unpacking etc but now its all done. Due to Covid restrictions there was a delay on the completion of renovations but all was finally completed two weeks ago.
Since the move we have not looked back, the best discussion we have had in a long while.
Have that courageous conversation
*Parenting your parents – When the roles are reversed. How do you cope
Taking care of your parents is often fraught with problems much of which is old behaviour patterns. I have written an article on this very subject. Click here to for further information
. Link “Moving Your Parents” is from the Downsizing Caregiver.org website.
Images: Pixabay Pexels & usplash
Photograpehrs: Marek Keizer, Lalesh Aldarwish & Anemone
FYI All links are without affiliate commission and are what I recommend.
*Language Difference. During the post I made reference to your parents ideally being on the *”First Floor” in the UK its called “Ground Floor”, this is where they would ideally live with bathroom also on the Ground Floor.