A sensitive subject -- living with aging parents

Jun 29, 2014

Though it may not seem very long ago that you moved out of your parents’ house, it may be time to consider having them move in with you.  While living with a parent has many advantages, it is important to take time to decide if it is best for you and the person moving in.

This week on “Take Care,” David Horgan discusses the challenges of having a parent move in and how to make the experience beneficial for both you and your parent.  Horgan is an award-winning medical educator, filmmaker, and director.  He is also a co-author of “When Your Parent Moves in:  Every Adult Child’s Guide to Living with an Aging Parent.”

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with David Horgan.

Since safety is a primary concern for those of us who have parents, having them move can be a good option for protecting their health.  The first step to take before having a parent move in is to have a candid conversation regarding the details of the new living situation, Horgan says.  In order to have a successful moving experience, financial and medical needs must be considered, as well as the general logistics of the move. 

“You don’t want to do something like this as a snap decision,” Horgan says.

Conversations should range from how to integrate the parent into household activities to what to do if the parent wants to have someone move in with them.

Horgan also says that it is helpful to consider what is important to the parent instead of focusing on how the move affects you.  Valuing your parent’s feelings can make it easier to get past what Horgan calls a “superficial relationship” and create a genuine friendship that is based on equality.

Involving your parent in daily activities can also be difficult.  Horgan says that allowing a parent to assist with chores and other tasks can make them feel like a “valuable part of the household.”

If your parent needs someone to look after him or her, Horgan suggests hiring an unemployed family member or friend to help out.  Hiring someone who is familiar with the parent makes it easier for the parent to adjust and is also a cheaper alternative to bringing in help from a care provider.

Having a parent move in is a challenge and represents a significant lifestyle change, but it can be a positive experience for both the parent and adult child.

“If you make a plan, if you have the conversations up front and define your boundaries, it can be a very pleasant and very productive addition to your life.”