Are you considering moving your aging parent(s) closer to or in with you?
This decision can be difficult. All parties may not be on the same page. This consideration may arise after long-term planning or in a crisis. Your parent(s) may be healthy with full cognitive ability, or there may be serious healthcare needs. Finances may be an issue. Availability of medical care may be a factor. Your immediate family may or may not be supportive. You may wonder how you are going to juggle the squeeze of caring for your aging parents, kids, spouse, house, and life.
Does your parent want to relocate?
Regardless of age, moving is stressful. Your parent(s) may not be interested in uprooting their lives. Although your intention is likely good with positive opportunities at their new destination, you’re also asking them to leave their home, life, community, doctors, local support system, and memories.
If there are not serious health concerns
If there are not serious health concerns, ask yourself why you want to move them closer. Will it help your life in a practical way? Are you wanting to be emotionally closer? Are you wanting them to have more of a connection with their grandchildren? Do you believe the move will help their life in some way? Are you able to move closer to them instead? Have an open and honest conversation with your parents about all angles.
It is natural to feel hurt or sad if your parents choose not to move closer to you. It can feel like a rejection. Many adults hope that this stage can be a “do-over” where the grandparents/grandchildren can connect in a way that didn’t occur in their own childhood. There are many reasons why parents may not want to move closer.
- Some grandparents want to be actively involved in the day-to-day lives of their grandchildren, whereas others do not.
- Some may fear that their boundaries will not be respected if they move closer.
- Some parents do not want to burden their children. They believe that their grown child will feel overly responsible for them if they move closer or in with them.
- They may not be ready to admit that they need help. Accepting help at this stage requires acknowledging one’s mortality which isn’t easy for any of us.
- Moving may simply feel too overwhelming in terms of organizing, packing, saying goodbye to their local friends and life. Covid is certainly complicating things as having movers in the house may feel too unsafe.
If possible, have a conversation with your parents to try to understand the true reasons behind their hesitations. Talk them through. Brainstorm possible solutions. Acknowledge their right to choose and that the solution may not look like you’d hoped.
It can be helpful to remember that all we can do in life is to tell others how we feel or what we want. The choice is then theirs, and we must release ourselves from trying to control the outcome.
You can share your desire for your parents to live closer and offer to help them work out the logistics of a move. If they decline, you may want to explore with them their plan for staying in terms of aging and changing medical needs. Be transparent and honest about the limitations you will face in being able to help from far away and while juggling your own life responsibilities.
If there are serious health concerns
If there are serious medical needs behind the move, your parent may (or may not) be more agreeable to the move. They may recognize the need for assistance and feel emotionally comforted being near family. Some parents have the foresight to move closer to family when one parent has serious medical problems in order to ensure that the surviving parent will be supported. They may be the ones behind wanting to move whereas you are more hesitant.
If there is resistance to moving from either party, have an honest conversation. If you want to move your parent in with you, what are their concerns? Is moving them closer to you where they can still live independently an option? If space is an issue, would it be possible to build an in-law for them at your home or a separate guest house? If they are in need of Assisted Living care, would they be more open to that option in their own community vs moving closer to you? Discuss with them how that decision will impact them and your availability to visit. If you are hesitant to move them in or closer, be honest with yourself and them about your concerns and brainstorm ideas, boundaries, and solutions.
Setting up a long-term strategy together now will help ease the squeeze as you enter this new stage of life together.
If your parent(s) are on Medicaid or will likely have the need for Medicaid, be sure to check local laws before moving them to understand the possible implications.