Today we are going to talk about something so devastating to many of us. How do we decide when our parents (who always seemed so strong) are not capable of taking care of themselves anymore and have to come live with us?
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I am writing this post for my bestie who just texted me and let me know that it is time to pull her Daddy into her home. He has cancer and needs support and love right now.
That said, bringing your parent home is never an easy transition and I wanted to give her some advice and love about what we experienced when we brought my husband's Mom who has dementia to live with us.
Our Caregiver Story
We had to move my mother in law in with us after she had a fall, then another one and then a hospital stay of a week and two weeks in rehab.
When she first came to stay we all thought it would be “just for a little while” until we could get her straightened out and back on her feet (looking back, thinking it was just for a while helped her transition… maybe think about proposing that for your loved one!)
Once she came home from the rehab we knew that there was no more “living on her own”, she needed help and companionship from me (and some from my family, but most of it falls to me!)
When Should You Move Them In?
There are eleventy billion different reasons you might have for moving your Mom or Dad in, but here are some that might make a “have to” situation.
It's A Safety Issue
If your loved one is falling and can't get help, or turning on the stove and forgetting it, filling their house with flammable or trappable objects, or doesn't remember to shut their doors, then it is just a safety issue.
I feel like this one is a hard stop decision. If they are in true peril of injury, bring to live with you.
They Aren't Eating
Our mom functionally stopped eating. She would order “meals to make”, we would take her to get her favorite foods at the store and even send leftovers home with her, but she kept losing weight.
Now this one snuck up on us so watch for it. She talked a lot about eating and getting food, but was not motivated to make or eat any of it.
Now that we pulled her in, I make her yogurt every morning and we eat dinner every night. She weighs a normal amount now and that is helping her overall health.
They Aren't Taking Meds
Here is another biggie, most of our loved ones have medications that they need to take on a regular basis. Not taking some of them or taking too many could be a life threatening problem.
My mom takes meds for her hands (she has arthritis) and for her memory and for her thyroid. She also needs vitamins like folic acid and Vitamin B.
If you have tried the pill tray and the daily reminders and the calling to do it and they still aren't taking their pills, it is probably time to pull them in.
They Aren't Bathing
I KNOW that being a little stinky is not life threatening, but it not bathing is an indication that they are not caring for themselves in general.
Our mom is not a big bather, heck we can go weeks before I have to demand a wash up session and she will NEVER shower (here is a bit about this problem for us! Why Won’t Your Alzheimers or Dementia Parent Take Showers)
I feel like this one is an indicator to watch out for rather than a safety issue. Maybe just put it on your radar for thinking about.
They Are Incontinent
Looking back, Mom was having incontinence issues that I never noticed. She might smell a little or her home might have some tissues in the garbage with poop on them.
I feel like she was ashamed of this and tried to hide, but it is a normal part of her diseases problems and once we got her here and in Depends, most of those problems are solvable (we clean her bathroom and take out the trash A LOT!)
When I started this I thought that pooping was hygiene issue, but there are super bad things that can happen when your loved one is dealing with cleaning up poop or urine without proper hand washing or gloves.
- How To Get Rid of Poop and Pee Smells In Your Laundry
- 6 Must Have Products For Elderly Caregivers Dealing With Poop | Elderly Fecal Incontinence
- 6 No Fail Ways To Get Rid of Pee Smells In Bathroom
They Are Too Far Away
When I started caregiving for my mom, she as about 45 minutes away (which meant one and half hours of drive time every time I needed to help her).
Now that she is living with us, it is SO much easier to mind what she is doing, get her to doctors and dentist appointments and generally keep her in tip top form.
The inconvenience of her living with us is somewhat made up for by the time I gained back. (and I KNOW, some of you may be thinking, having my loved one with me shouldn't be an “inconvenience” but this an honest post, not a politically correct post)
Nice Things About Moving Your Parent In
Okay now let's talk about all the nice things about having your parent move in with you!
Josey Loves His Gram
My son loves having his grandmother living with us. She and he have a fun bond, she gives him treats and he takes out all her Amazon boxes!
He doesn't have the responsibility of caring for her AND he also doesn't have all the baggage from childhood so she is just his “Gram”.
She Truly Is A Nice Old Gal
Sometimes it is hard to remember that she can be nice when she is being mean, but all in all, she is really a nice old gal!
Our big girl is pregnant and mom is making her a baby blanket and has bought a ton of fun stuff for the baby (not all age appropriate but who cares!)
My Husband Doesn't Have To Worry As Much
I am caring for my Mother In Law so it isn't as heart wrenching (still bad, she has been my mom for almost 20 years now) as it would be if it was my own parent.
But I can see from my husband that having her here is much less stressful than having to constantly worry about her safety and health from afar.
Hard Things About Moving Your Parent In
I am not sure any of these things should deter you from moving your loved one in, but knowing them ahead of time might help you deal with them when they crop up.
She Is An Adult Acting Like A Child
It is so frustrating to hear “I will clean my room later” coming from a grown woman when I am trying to get my teens to keep their rooms clean too!
As a sandwich generation caregiver, I for sure struggle with having to be the adult to my kids and our parents!
She Misses Her Autonomy
I KNOW that sometimes Mom just wishes she could go back to her nice, quiet apartment where no one was nagging her to eat, take her meds, take showers, clean her room and everything else!
She tells us sometimes that she misses her house, but I honestly think that she misses being the boss of herself!
I Am ALWAYS The Bad Guy
If you are reading this, you need to know that you will never be enough, do enough, be kind enough or stern enough. You will will ALWAYS be the bad guy to your loved one.
This one is super frustrating as you might feel that you are doing everything you can, but just understand they are frustrated at the fact that they have lost their home and autonomy and you are the one the one that took that from them (even it was best for them!)
We Were On the Verge of a “Normal Life”
This might be the hardest thing. Our big girl was getting ready to move out, and my littles were getting old enough that I was having a lot of free time to do more art and build my business.
Then came Mom with doctors appointments, medicine, pharmacy runs, making sure she is fed and clothed, cleaning and managing EVERYTHING.
But at the end of the day I know this season will end too and we will all get through it because we love each other!
Final Thoughts…. We Love Them!
Okay, that was a lot about the good and back of moving your parent in with you… but I want to end this with love.
We move them in because we love them and want to care for them, the way that they cared for us when they could.
For many of our loved ones, having us take care of them will make their lives happier and more blessed than if they are living alone, struggling with no one to lean on!