Educator Offers Tips for an Easy and Harmonious Living
by David Horgan
moving a parent in and making a life altering change to the
family harmony, there are many things to consider. Inviting
an elderly parent to move in has far reaching implications
on every aspect of your life, from financial impact to
changing family dynamics, from role re-assignment to safety
issues, from power struggles to eroding privacy.
• Be Open: Have a clear and open discussion
with your family, siblings, spouse, kids, and ultimately
your parent, to decide if making the move is the right
decision for all parties involved. Discuss:
a. The pros and cons
b. The different ways this move will effect the family
c. The ways each family member’s routines may be
d. Expectations that may differ from “the way things
have always been”
e. Any possible monetary issues that could arrive
f. Compromises that each family member will have to make
Management: An elderly parent is apt to have a litany of
doctor appointments, medication, and needs.
a. With the help of medical and geriatric care
professionals, assess your parent’s medical needs and
gain a clear understanding of how those needs will
affect you and your family.
b. Gather all possible medical resources, containing
both specific people and organizations, to minimize
frustrations as well as possible mistakes.
c. Use your support network to create and implement a
plan as well as back-up plans.
Day: Moving is stressful under any circumstance. Moving
in an aging parent entails a permanent lifestyle change and
one that may be met with resistance, which can make it even
more difficult. Plan for every detail upfront to minimize
the potential strife.
a. Ready yourself for volatile emotions and flaring
tempers from all parties.
b. Use your utmost compassion and support when you
decide what stays and what goes.
c. The move may not have been a parent’s first choice.
Avoid sweeping decisions, such as throwing away
Grandma’s 50 year-old collection of National Geographics,
without discussing it with her first.
d. Decide ahead of time on furniture placement.
e. Make a disbursement plan for who gets items that
cannot fit into your house. (Storage, give away, other
House Rules: Your parent is used to running the
household with his/her own rules. Everyone must openly
acknowledge that each family member must compromise to make
the new living arrangement successful. It is important to
create a plan that is respectful to all parties, so your
parent doesn’t feel slighted and uncomfortable as the
“newcomer” to your home. You also want to make sure that you
and your spouse do not feel like outsiders. Decide on:
b. Who waters the plants and feeds the cat etc.
c. Who helps and who doesn’t help in the kitchen
d. How you like laundry done
e. Bathroom etiquette
f. What you make for dinner and what time
g. When are lights out, and television off
About the Author
David Horgan is an award-winning medical educator, filmmaker
and director who shares his firsthand account of
what to do, what not to do, and what can happen (the good
and the bad) in his book When Your Parent Moves In. Mr.
Horgan is also Media Director for Project-13, a non-profit
drop out prevention program in Holyoke, Ma that reaches
inner-city kids through film and music production as well as
practical work experience.
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