Four Easy and Effective Ways to Share a Home With a Senior
Sharing a home with an aging parent, grandparent or elderly loved one can be a challenging situation, but it is also very rewarding. Many people see it as an opportunity to give back to a person who has already given so much. Others feel better and more confident knowing their loved one is close by and safe.
Regardless of your reasons for having an elderly loved one live with you, there will be many choices—and some sacrifices—ahead for both of you. Here are four ideas to help make the process smooth and simple.
Storing sentimental possessions
Your loved one may have a hard time letting go of some of their belongings, especially ones that are sentimental. However, a purge is a necessity—they will likely be moving from a house to a few rooms. You can help take away some of the stress by renting a storage unit or installing a steel shed to house items they aren’t ready to let go. A steel building on your property could be a more cost-effective move in the long run, especially if your loved one needs a durable place close by to store furniture or big items.
Setting boundaries right away
It’s important that you set boundaries with your elderly loved one so that you both get the quality home life you need to thrive. Your loved one may be suffering from physical, emotional or cognitive conditions that often set in at a certain age. Posting the house rules in their bedroom can help them remember what’s expected of them. You should also allow them to add or suggest their own house rules. It’s a good way to protect your own “me time” and encourage self-care, something caregivers rarely make the time to do. It’s also important to set physical boundaries.
Making accessibility modifications
Chances are your senior is moving in with you for a physical or mental health concern, or a combination of several. You may need to install or prepare modifications to make your home safe and comfortable. Some of these will cost time and money, while others are easier to make. For example, make sure the floors aren’t slippery, replace faucet knobs with levers for easy gripping, keep the home comfortable in warm weather with a working air conditioner, and install grab bars in the bathroom. These quick fixes can protect your loved one from a slip or fall—in the senior population, 87 percent of bone fractures are due to falls.
You may be concerned for your loved one’s health and safety, but you have to resist the temptation to hover and enable. Seniors who wish it have a right to age with dignity. Set up your household to promote their independence. For a senior with no serious health concerns, give them a separate entrance to the property. Others could have their own bathroom with safety modifications. Some may not be able to use the stove or oven, but they can help prepare meals and make certain snacks on their own. Be sure to keep the lawn trim and the walkways clean so they can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
This is a very transformative time in your life, and also for your loved one. As you rearrange your home, they are facing the emotional challenges of adjusting to a new lifestyle—and both are exceptionally hard. Be kind, but be clear with each other, and find ways to resolve conflict early on. That way, you can focus on enjoying the time you have in the new space you have together.