CEO, Aspirience Home Care
Having an elderly or ailing parent move in with you and your family rather than shuttling between two homes might make sense, but this is not the kind of move to make on a whim. Some due diligence and solid thought process must be done beforehand.
Consider these five tips that could help you address some important issues before you bring your parent under your roof and into your daily life:
- Get your legal ducks in a row. To protect your parent’s legal rights, be sure to have in place a will, an advance health-care directive or living will, a financial power of attorney, and a health care power of attorney. Also, decide before the move how much you and your siblings will each pay toward the cost of extra food, utilities, home retrofitting and nursing or other care. An attorney should draw up an agreement that spells out all the details; you can alter the document later if your parent’s medical or care expenses change.
- Understand the finances. If you pay for at least 50 percent of your parents’ expenses, you can claim them as dependents on your tax return. That means you’ll be able to deduct related medical expenses like doctor’s visits, dental care, insurance premiums, medical equipment and home care that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Modifications that you make to your house to accommodate your parent’s health care needs such as installing handrails, putting in a ramp, or widening doorways are also considered medical expenses.
- Retrofit your home. You will want your parent to feel as comfortable as possible in your home. Ideally, that means providing a separate bedroom and bathroom. If you don’t have a spare room, consider closing off a dining or living room with a wall or even just a curtain for privacy. Make sure that the rest of your home is safe and accessible: Install bright lighting in hallways, tuck electrical cords away from walkways, and replace door knobs with easier-to-open levers. Also, if your parent is disabled, lay down commercial grade rather than plush carpeting, which makes it easier to maneuver wheelchairs and walkers.
- Arrange for services. If you are not sure what health care services your parent will need, talk to his doctor or consult a geriatric care manager. If you need to hire a home care agency to assist your parent with basic activities, stress that it will allow him or her to remain more independent in the long run. Set ground rules for the aide in order to maintain some privacy for your own family. A paid caregiver needs to know that there may be some areas in your home that are just for you, your spouse and kids unless there is an emergency.
- Don’t overlook your family’s needs. Bringing a parent to live with you will affect your family’s lifestyle and emotions significantly. Be sure to take time for yourself and exercise, eat healthfully and keep up your social contacts as best you can. Explain to your kids that they may not be able to have friends over as much, or will need to be quiet after a certain time of the evening. Spend time just with your spouse or kids, even if that means asking someone to stay with your parent while your family has a special outing.
One of the best steps one can take is to partner with a strong home care provider in your time of transition and need. It can make a world of a difference in moving a parent.