Struggling with assisted living alternatives for your parents?If you’re between the ages of 25 and 45, it’s likely that you’re among the Sandwich Generation: not only do you have children, but you also have a parent (or two) over the age of 65. Being members of the Sandwich Generation is a great blessing. That said, it’s no picnic looking out for two generations at once, especially when it becomes clear that your parents can no longer cope with independent living.
While your parents may not need full time care just yet, it may be time to have that conversation about an interim solution and assisted living alternatives. The two most popular options include having your parents move in with you, and looking into assisted living options. But which is best? While it’s important to think about your parents needs, it is vital to consider your own capabilities. It’s widely appreciated nowadays that the best way to care for others is to make sure that you’re caring for yourself as well.
The More the Merrier
Inviting your parents to live with you, or offering to move in with them, might feel a little strange as an adult with children of your own, but bear in mind that multigenerational households have become the norm. Young people are taking longer and longer to acquire the financial stability required to move out of the parental home, and older people unable afford the care they need in old age are having to rely on family members. There are great advantages to moving back to a more communal way of life, where people share space and responsibilities within the household.
It is common for older people to suffer bouts of depression following retirement because they no longer feel that they have a purpose. Providing live-in help with the children can give an older person a new lease on life, and the extra hands can be a relief for parents who are unable to afford childcare. But children are the biggest winners in this arrangement: extra adults in the house means more bedtime stories!
The older generation is often devalued in modern society, so having your parents in the home provides a great opportunity to instill in your children that older folks have a lot to offer in terms of experience, stories, advice, and of course just being great company.
Logistically, the move-in solution is the most cost-effective and convenient in terms of personal involvement. You’re there when you’re needed for emergencies, and you get all the quality time with your parent that you could possibly want.
Before jumping into this cozy arrangement, it’s well worth considering the potential drawbacks of having everyone under one roof. We all have our own habits and like to use space in ways that suit us. Older people can be especially set in their ways, which is totally understandable, but when space, time and resources are limited, a certain amount of give and take is going to required. Parent-child dynamics are going to come into play, and it’s not always going to be easy.
When last did you live with your parents? For many of us, the answer to this question is: before leaving home. Back then, you were living under your parents’ roof, obeying their rules. Now that the tables have turned, it can be hard for both parties to adjust. You might find yourself deferring to your parents on household decisions, while your parents may be tempted to assert authority over issues that should be your responsibility. It’s important to bear this in mind and be mindful of how your behavior is affected by your parents’ presence in your home.
Another important consideration if you’re thinking of going this route is whether or not you’re qualified and prepared (physically, mentally and emotionally) to provide your parents with the level and type of care they require. Professional care workers are some of the most under-appreciated workers in the economy, as most people have no idea how skilled and taxing their work is.
If you hire someone to help out, there will be the financial squeeze, but on the other hand, if you try to do everything yourself, you’re looking at physical burnout and emotional exhaustion. Where professional assistance is required to provide your parent with a full range of care, there are many options available.
Whether they need Physiotherapy or Dementia Support, you would be doing the right thing for your parent and for yourself by knowing your limits and seeking specialized support available in your area.
If the big family home has become too much for your parents to manage, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t live independently. Sometimes helping your parents sell and move out of their home in favour of a small house or flat situated among other senior citizens can be just the thing. Retirement communities offer a wide spectrum of care facilities, from assistance with things like transport, shopping and household maintenance, to accident response and health-care.
Moving can be stressful for elderly folks, but when your parent takes into account the benefit of a like-minded community on their doorstep, they may be encouraged to endure the disruption in order to enter a new and exciting phase of life. Bear in mind that retirement communities are not the cheapest option, so it might be suitable only if you have the means. Understanding your parents’ financial situation is going to be paramount. Your options might be more limited if you’re going to be shouldering the costs, but if your parents are still financially independent, you may have a little more breathing room.
We may consider ourselves lucky to be among the Sandwich Generation, but it can take its toll. Maybe your parent can no longer drive, so you’re adding that extra grocery run to your week, or there is maintenance to be done, or you’re worried about them slipping, so your mind is constantly on alert. All of these little things add up, and at a certain point you realize that it’s time to have that sensitive conversation about assisted living alternatives with your parent.
Whether you’re going to look into a retirement community or make room for your parents in your own home, make sure you’re making room to care for yourself as well.