The decision to downsize as a senior isn’t always an easy one and is often emotionally charged. If help is also need then it can make the whole process even more difficult.
Parents may know that they are physically in the right place, but emotionally may not be as ready as you think they are. After all, they will always consider themselves to be your parents and therefore asking you for help may not be something they are used to doing.
But its equally stressful for adult children who will be juggling careers and children of their own. Whilst it might seem best to ‘get it done’ as quickly as possible, it’s important to think about their emotional well being before setting out the logistics.
Intergenerational living isn’t guaranteed to be successful just because everyone is family; in fact, it can often make things worse. It requires careful planning and discussion and more than that, a focus on boundary setting. After all there are usually many people of considerable different generations to consider and nobody wants to start being made to feel unhappy in their own home.
Ask yourself the following questions as you consider your options:
- How much physical and medical help do they need?
- Is this a reaction following a health setback or scare?
- How will they physically fit into the house – will you have enough space for everyone or do you need to be making changes first?
- Might you need to make renovations to kitchens, bathrooms, doorways, lighting and railings to make living conditions safer and more manageable.
- Are there other intermediate options available first? Assisted living?
- Will their needs increase as time goes on and how will you prepare to manage that if it does?
- Having additional people to take care of will require more of your time and energy, which could lead to cutting back on time with other family members or ignoring your own health needs.
- What are the financial arrangements going to be and are you sharing them with other members of the family?
- Will the move be taking them away from their community? Will it isolate them from people they have socialised with or hobbies they have done? Do you work full-time? Will your parent therefore still be home alone, but no longer with accustomed neighbours or familiar friends nearby? Is there a risk they might actually might feel more isolated than before?
- What will happen to the contents of your parent’s home? Will they want to keep everything with them or will it need to be divided up between members of the family? This can be a hugely upsetting experience for families as seemingly important belongings can have huge sentimental value.
Equally – for all the considerations of how life will change, they are also many ways in which it can improve.
- You will be able to spend some quality time with those that are most important to you.
- having elders around them can really teach children and young people a great deal about the world.
- You will get to now your parents in a unique way and at a unique stage in your lives.
- This is your chance to show their love and gratitude. You parents cared for you when you needed them and now you can care for their them when they need it.
- If you have managed the finances efficiently then pooling your resources can be of valuable assistance at this time in your life.
- It is possible that elderly parents can help out around the house in more ways than one; light chores, free child care, supplement the household income etc.
- Encourage children to interact with their grandparents; story-telling or learning a new skill (cooking, sewing, playing sports). Not only will your parents love spending time with their grandchildren, but the time your family spends together will become important memories and stories that will be told for years to come, long after grandma and grandpa have passed away.