Planning for Mom to Move In
My mother is planning to move in with us in the New Year. With everything I have read about caregiving, I’m worried I will burn out with the added responsibility. Are there steps I can take to prevent that from happening? Mother is a healthy 85-year-old. I do not anticipate problems, but I do wonder how my family and I will handle the extra person since we – my husband, two children and I – are used to coming and going with work, school, and personal schedules.
Absolutely, you can prepare yourself. Let’s take a look at how you can prepare for the most successful transition. Don't forget that your family can also help manage the extra strain it will place on your household.
An ideal situation would be an apartment on the property that allows privacy for both your family and your mother. A kitchen, bedroom, living space, and bathroom would give your mother a space to call home. If she has the resources and your arrangement is permanent, it may be wise to add on or do a remodel, making her remaining years comfortable. If an addition is not possible, arrange for her to have her own room, near a bathroom. Provide a lock for her door, if she would like one, which gives her the privacy she is used to.
Look around your home to make sure that it is safe for her.
- Do all steps have a handrail?
- Do you have nightlights in strategic places?
- How accessible is your kitchen for her to prepare food?
- Does the bathroom need grab-bars for the toilet and tub?
- How will laundry work?
Try your best keep your social life the same. This may require a bit of maneuvering, though it will be essential for you to maintain a happy marriage and continue to raise your children in the way you are accustomed to. Plan what people now call “date nights,” vacations, and the usual host of sporting events for the children. It is okay if Mother stays home when she does not feel like joining you. Set up a “sitter” for Mom if that is needed. Plan for your needed respite up front and discuss it with all involved, since this new situation will inevitably cause some unforeseen challenges.
Plan every aspect of the cost of this move, and do it with your mother. Figure out a fair monthly room and board fee. To do this, calculate the cost of occupying your space, e.g., utilities, taxes, square footage, and maintenance. I realize that it will feel awkward to accept rent from your mother; however, think about it another way, “Where could she go for free?” You will have increased costs when your mother moves in. I would share the plan with your siblings if you have them. Talking about money and expenses after Mother moves in is a very bad idea. Sort it out up front.
You are describing a parent who is healthy and independent at this time. It would not hurt to do a little bit of future planning. Will you bring care into the home, or will Mother go to assisted living at some point? While it is not essential to have this conversation now, it may be a good idea to find out your mother’s wishes and to work on an advance directive.
The secret to a successful merger of your mother and your family is planning. Looking at and discussing every aspect of the move will increase your chances of a successful transition.
I wish you the best.
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