How to Prepare Your Home for an Elderly Parent
Your parents did the best they could to give you every advantage they could for as long as they could. They didn’t do it for your thanks or recognition. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it. They also didn’t do it for any type of future repayment, as if it were a form of insurance against the time when they might need your help. You don’t have a legal requirement to look after your aging parents in the same way you have for looking after your dependent children. It is not an obligation that should drive you to take in your elderly parents in their hour of need, but your unconditional love.
Unfortunately, wanting to do a good thing does not make you qualified to do it. Your parents might have some type of health issue that requires more than your good intentions. It might require a nursing facility where they can get the professional care their situation demands. In most situations, you will be able to open your home as a compromise between independent living and a retirement home. Health might not be the reason they need to move out of their house. It could be economic. Either way, there are some things you should do to prepare the way. Here are a few:
Be Sure You Are Properly Insured
One reason you feel confident that you can do the job of taking care of your parents is that you have done well for yourself and have an excellent job that provides you and your family with more than enough income. You also have a high-dollar life insurance policy that will leave your loved ones well taken care of were something to happen to you.
That said, the pandemic has taught us that good jobs that make a lot of money are fragile commodities. Getting sick or injured can put you in arrears faster than you think. Securing short term disability insurance can be the difference between you being able to take care of your parents and needing someone to take care of you. Our plans tend to be contingent on everything remaining as they are. We are bad about imagining the worst and preparing contingencies for them. The time when your parents might have to move in with you is a conversation you should have with your parents long before the situation arises. Don’t let it be something to consider only if the moment arises.
Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices
There are obvious sacrifices to be made whenever someone moves into your house, even your parents. They have lived a certain way for longer than you have been alive. The change is bigger for them than it is for you. Caring for your parents is a new stage. To make the transition as smooth as possible, consider the compromises you will need to make. Perhaps they like having a TV on all day for background noise and familiarity. That will clash if you don’t like to watch TV. The music that you like to play in the morning might clash with their habit of quietly reading the paper. Their strict diet might require you to eliminate some foods from the fridge. Peanut allergies can be a real problem.
If you still have kids living at home, the compromises will have to run even deeper. You can’t expect grandma to do all the babysitting. She still has a life and might have things to do and people to see. Schedules will have to be coordinated, especially if you are the one providing all the transportation. Most of these issues will have simple solutions. You just have to discuss them in advance so that little problems don’t become big ones later.
Rethink the Furniture
Before bringing a senior into your home, check out a home safety checklist for seniors. After that, take a step back and look at your furniture arrangement. Ask yourself if it is conducive for someone moving about with a cane or walker? Are there tripping hazards? Is there enough clear space to safely move about? This is the kind of little thing that tends to get overlooked until it becomes a big thing.
Accident insurance, compromises, and safety considerations can be dealt with for a comfortable living situation for all parties. Just be sure to deal with them well in advance.