The cost of senior care has gone up with inflation, causing many older adults to remain in their homes, sharing them with younger family members or moving in with an adult child. Doing so allows them to maintain more of their independence while often benefiting those with whom they share room and board. Over 90% of this population prefers to age in place instead of a professional care facility.
However, adjusting to life with your parents or in-laws requires educating yourself about aging and the needs this population has. Here are five things to keep in mind if you live with a senior.
1. Consider Life Insurance for Parents
Older adults often have more medical issues than younger folks, which can make caring for them more challenging. It may even bring up some questions about life insurance for parents and if that’s a good option for you.
Just rest assured knowing, you’re not alone. Although Medicare won’t pay for 24-hour at-home care, they provide services like physical and occupational therapy and part-time intermittent care. If the senior you live with has an advantage plan, they may have additional benefits — call their insurance company to determine availability.
Their insurer isn’t the only place you have to turn for help. Seek area agencies on aging to find out what services are available in your community. Look into modern conveniences, too. Meal delivery services can help feed older adults who struggle with grocery shopping and apps like Uber and Lyft can provide transportation for those who don’t drive. The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center can also assist with rides to medical appointments.
2. Accessibility Matters
You might have no problem traversing your steep driveway, even when winter ice and snow strikes. However, you might want to leave the garage space available. That way, your older relative can park on a flat surface to make their way inside.
Your interior design also matters. If you have a 2 or more story home and your older relative struggles with stairs, you may need to invest in a lift device. If that’s not in the budget, can you arrange for them to have a downstairs bedroom that provides kitchen and bathroom access?
Many accidents occur at home and they often strike in the bathroom. It isn’t too challenging or expensive to install grab bars, although you may need to cut into your drywall and reinforce the space between your studs to make it sturdy enough to support weight. Additionally, you can find toilet risers for those whose arthritic knees struggle to squat over a standard pot.
3. They Aren’t Your Household Help
You may have three generations living in one home, and your parents probably love their grandchildren. However, assuming they’ll always be at your beck and call whenever you need a sitter is a bit entitled. They’re still independent adults with schedules and priorities.
Have an open discussion about their availability. Are there certain days or times they’d rather reserve for themselves? Mark these down on a calendar if need be to avoid future arguments.
Divide the household chores fairly. Your parents or in-laws might not work anymore, but their retirement plans probably didn’t involve starting a second career as maids. Discuss who does what, perhaps making a task chart for your refrigerator that people can check when completed.
4. They’re Not Your Children, Either
Even if the older adults you share a home with occasionally require your assistance, they’re not your children. It isn’t your place to dictate their diet or control where they go or who they can see. Unless a doctor diagnoses them with dementia and assigns you as their caregivers, they should continue making decisions for themselves. It’s more than a matter of basic human dignity — the mental exercise helps them maintain their sharpness.
However, you should keep tabs on their driving and ensure they attend their annual eye exam. Many older adults eventually relinquish their licenses when visual impairments interfere with their ability, and some states require those over 65 to undergo testing as part of the renewal process. Be gentle when addressing your concerns, perhaps suggesting they take a self-assessment from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
5. They Have Many Blessings to Share
Living with a senior is like having a walking encyclopedia share your home. They’ve experienced so much more in life and have tons of wisdom to share. Are you looking for advice on your teenager’s antics? Keep in mind they’ve already raised you — and you turned out well.
They’re also a rich source of insight about history. Is your child doing a report about the Civil Rights Era? If your parents or in-laws were teens during that time, why not have your little one interview them for inside insights into what it was like to grow up back then?
Many people have forgotten how to do basic tasks without electronic assistance. For example, could you hang shelves without Googling the instructions? The senior you live with grew up in an era before the internet existed — but they probably still have the knack.
Things to Keep in Mind If You Live With a Senior
More and more older adults are choosing to age in place, having their adult children live with them or moving in those who have homes to share. This arrangement often benefits both, letting seniors maintain their independence while helping their younger relatives with necessities.
However, you must remember the unique needs of this population. Keep the above five things in mind if you live with a senior.