Too often, the decision to move into a family
member’s home is made when a crisis develops or as a last resort.
Sudden illness or injury strikes and the family is left without a
plan for long-term care for their loved one. Experts suggest that
all families discuss the possibility of the need for long-term care,
and the possibility of family members living together as a solution
to the daily care situation. The following are some items to discuss
with all members of the family before making such a move.
Is the home “elder friendly”? It is necessary to
review the setup of the home, in terms of stairs, additional
bedrooms, bathrooms and general safety issues. If home modifications
are needed, they should be completed prior to the move.
How much care will the relative require? Daytime
supervision, medication management, meal preparation and
entertainment are just a few examples of important issues to
consider. Assess the level of assistance needed now and in the
foreseeable future. If the relative is in poor health, who will be
in charge of providing the care? Will other family members share in
the caregiving duties? Establish basic rules and a care routine to
help prevent conflicts and caregiver burnout.
How do family members get along with each other?
How are conflicts dealt with? All families have their share of
problems and each family handles them differently. The loss of
independence is difficult for anyone and reactions or behavior
change is to be expected. It is important to be able to talk about
how everyone is feeling and encourage the relative to continue with
a life of their own. Communication skills, including active
listening, are necessary in handling and resolving conflicts
How will the change in household expenses be
handled? An increase in family size usually means an increase in
family expenses. Will the relative contribute? Are there other
family members who can help with financial support?
What is expected of the relative? What
responsibilities will they have for care of the home? If there is a
separate apartment, will everyone dine together? What about family
outings – will the relative always be included?
Avoid the feeling that the situation is
Start with a limited “trial period,” then review
Once the move has been made to live together, it
is very important for all family members to have continual open and
honest communication with each other on all matters. Don’t hold in
your feelings – both positive and negative feelings need to be
If the health condition of the relative changes,
and additional care is needed, it is crucial for the family to
review the daily plan. If the situation requires help outside the
family, there are a number of alternatives that the family and the
relative can explore together. Make sure that the relative is
included in decision making, if they are able. Some other options
for care include: daily home health aide or homemaker care, which
would also provide respite relief for family caregivers, home based
community care programs, friends and neighbors, church outreach
programs and dividing the care responsibilities among the family by
rotating care, with the relative going to others’ homes, or by
allowing other relatives to come into the home to provide the daily
Families who maintain open and honest
communication and are willing to share in the financial and
caregiver responsibilities for a needy relative can successfully
reside together in the same home. Support can and should be a
two-way street. Where better to get the daily support that we all
need than from our family!
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