Pros and Cons of Living with an Elderly Parent

You’re trying to decide whether to bring your aged parent into your home. This is not an easy choice. It will change everyone’s lives. But what are the pros and cons?

The pros and cons of living with an elderly parent include:

SafetyLess Privacy
Family TimeRestricted Free Time
Save on ExpensesHome Modifications
BabysittingAdded Stress

Making the decision to live with an aged parent should not be taken lightly. On the surface, it may seem simple, but there are many scenarios to work through. I’ll look at some of these scenarios and discuss the pros and cons of living with an elderly parent.

Cons of Living with an Elderly Parent

I always like to get the negative out of the way first, so we’ll start with the cons. Each family is different, so my con might be your pro. Adjust this list according to your needs. Let’s start.

Living with an Elderly Parent and Hampers Privacy

Remember when you were a teenager? Mom or dad always wanted to know where you were going, what you were doing and when were you coming home. They went into your room unannounced. This took place whether you were home or not. Basically, they wanted to know everything about you, and as a result, they invaded your privacy.

Well, get ready; you’re about to feel like a teenager again. But although when you were a teen, this behavior was done on purpose, now it’s done out of fear and control.

Once mom or dad moves in, they’ll be asking you about every aspect of your life. When you leave the house, you’ll get the:

  • “Where are you going?”
  • “What time will you be home?”
  • “Who will you be with?”

This may drive you nuts. But, you’re a grown man or woman, and you’re now accountable to another adult.

But understand where this is coming from. For one thing, a parent never stops being a parent. It’s an old habit and not one that is easily broken. My stepson is in his 30s, and my husband still waits up for him. Parenthood just doesn’t end.

Add that to the fact you’ve become your aged parent’s whole world. Knowing where you are all the time dispels their fear of being left alone. It also gives them some control over their life. They know what’s going on all the time, that makes your aged parent in the know. Knowledge is power.

Having an Elderly Parent in the House Restricts Your Free Time

You used to run to the gym after work. But now you run home and cook dinner because dad likes to eat early. On your days off you would hang out or go to a movie. But your mother doesn’t drive, so you’re shuttling her around to doctor’s appointments and shopping. So where did your free time go?

You’re now busier than you’ve ever been. And if you have young children, you can get frazzled fast. You’re in luck if you have teenagers that can drive. Have them take grandma to her hair appointment.

Home Modifications are often Necessary When an Elderly Parent Moves In

Required home modifications could be a pro or a con depending on your circumstances. A home modification can mean anything from putting handrails in the bathroom to adding a grandma suite. One is just a slight inconvenience; the other improves your home’s value.

One change that might need to be made is the flooring. You might have to rip up the carpet because mom is incontinent and, well, what a mess. Or wood floors might be better for your parent’s walker or wheelchair.

If an upstairs bedroom is the only option and dad can’t make it, you might have to install a stairlift. This can be inconvenient, and frankly, adds nothing to your decor. And you’ll probably have to remove it when you go to sell the house (helpful hint, they now make a self-balancing wheelchair that can go upstairs).

Stress that Comes When an Elderly Parent Moves In

The average size house in the U.S. is roughly 2,300 square feet. This usually means having three bedrooms. If you are married and add in your aged parent, it becomes a little tight. But hold on, with 52 percent of millennials having moved back home, you might already have an adult child living with you. That adds up to overcrowding fast.

With so many people under one roof, there’s bound to be stress. You’re not only worrying about and taking care of your elderly parent, but you also have your adult children to worry about. And even though your children are adults, let’s face it, you’re still concerned. This adds up to you becoming a big ole stress ball. I have one bit of advice for you…wine!  If you don’t drink, at least have some herbal tea.

Pros of Living with an Elderly Parent

And now for the good stuff. There are many benefits to living with your elderly parent. This is mommy or daddy. They aren’t going to be here forever. This is the time to know them on a different and wonderful level. Let’s discuss these pros.

Providing a Safe Home for Your Elderly Parent

If your parent is up there in years and starting to be a little unsteady, you probably worry about falls. You don’t want a broken hip to force a decision. Or worse, having your parent lie on the floor in pain for hours. Or you might worry about your forgetful mother leaving the stove on, which could result in a disaster.

Safety goes beyond a stove being left on. For example, what if there is a fire or other emergency, could your parent evacuate? Or, what if someone breaks in? The “what ifs” will drive you crazy until something is done.

Your parent is safer with you. Even if they still fall or leave the stove on, you or a family member is there to pick up the pieces.

Family time with Your Aged Parent

Family time is the biggest benefit that comes with living with an aged parent. You’re both adults and this means the two of you have merged into a different relationship. Even if you’re acting like a caretaker, there’s still that adult-to-adult relationship. In a lot of circumstances, the body is going, but the mind is still there.

They may be perfectly capable of living on their own but are lonely from the loss of a spouse. This could turn into a fear of being alone.

Sharing each other’s lives creates a new dynamic. You may learn a lot about your parent you never knew. And if you have adult children in the house, they benefit from your parent’s wisdom and receive extra love and support.

Save Expenses When Living with an Aged Parent

An aged parent may have the wherewithal to contribute to family expenses. Dad doesn’t have a house to maintain any longer, so that frees up funds. Contributing to utilities or extra fun activities may be possible.

Suppose a renovation is necessary to accommodate the expanding family. In that case, your parent may be able to contribute to the cost (just make sure your siblings are ok with that, check out my article that discusses that issue).

This is a less costly solution than paying for assisted living or a retirement community. When my mother and I checked out independent living and retirement options, we were shocked at the cost. We found the average cost of independent living was $3,800 a month, and assisted living was even more. Wow! It can be even more expensive depending on where you are in the country.

Mom has a good pension, but we decided it was less expensive in the long run to build an addition to my house. As she put it, “at least we’d get something tangible out of it” (my article on convincing parents to move in addresses this).

Built in Babysitting Provided by an Aged Parent

You might still have children living at home. If your parent is healthy, they’ll make great babysitters, especially if they’re still driving. When you’re at work mom or dad pick up the kids from school. They may also be able to do schoolwork with them. Even if they’re a little off physically, they can still read with and keep their grandchildren company.

This gives the children the opportunity to know their grandparents on a deeper level. These will be memories that last a lifetime. And conversely, it allows your parents to be involved with their grandchildren.

Bottom Line to the Pros and Cons of Living with an Elderly Parent

Less privacy and some stresses are a downside to combining households. It’s an all-out commitment. And it’s hard to go back once everyone is moved. And yes, there are some challenges, but I think the result is worth it.

You and your adult children, or little kids, will really know their grandparents. They benefit from that experience. An added pro is the children experience the philosophy that family takes care of family.

In the end, I think you will find the pros are stronger than the cons.

Anne Johnson

Anne is both a writer and a Nana. She attended University of Akron and went on to have a career in television sales. She now writes and promotes the multigenerational lifestyle. Currently she resides in South Carolina with her husband, two cats, a horse and fabulous grands.

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