As people age, so do their parents. It happens without warning while you are growing up and starting your own family. People tend to just assume that the parent and child relationship will never change. Often the parents of small children and teens are faced with the problem of having to balance child rearing with caring for their own parents. Illnesses and accidents happen and create the dilemma of senior adults needing help from their own children to be able to cope. Financial considerations, guilt, and compassion all figure into the child as parent equation.
A fall can change a senior’s personal circumstances immediately.
A bad fall for an aging parent can tip the balance from being self-sufficient to needing frequent help and care. Many parents have a little savings or home equity when compared to the cost of providing home-based health care. When they realize how fast their nest egg will be consumed in a long-term care facility, worry and depression set in. To conserve resources and try to maintain a “normal” lifestyle, this often results in the parent or parents moving in with the family of one of their children.
Be careful what you offer.
First, do not be too quick to offer yourself and your home as a permanent solution. Some parents are looking for a way to avoid living alone. While no one would want to have an injury of severe illness, a widowed parent might see this type of offer as their ticket out of loneliness. It can be difficult to turn back once you have made a comment like, “don’t worry, you’ll always have a home with us.” Leave yourself some options.
You will have to deal with jealousy and resentment from your own children.
Most children do not like to share their parents. If they did, there would be a lot less sibling rivalry. Even grown children may resent having a grandparent always around when they come to visit. In the same way that grandparents are glad to only have grandchildren around when they want them, your children will feel that way about the grandparent. At other times, the children want the parents all to themselves. Your children will probably not be happy when they are called on to help take care of the grandparent.
Having a parent live with you with limited physical ability is not like having a house guest for a few days.
When a parent moves in permanently, it is a lot different than having a house guest. It involves banking, shopping, trips to the doctor, and so on. It’s great to be responsible and step up to do your part. Just step slowly. When possible, leave yourself a path of retreat.