Moving In With You

If your loved one can no longer live independently, should he or she move in with you? Here are some questions you both should consider.

If your loved one can no longer live on his or her own—due to illness, disability, or general problems associated with aging—the decision of whether he or she should live with you is often an emotional one. If the two of you have never been particularly close, you may question the reshaping of your relationship. In contrast, if your relationship has been very close, you may quickly assume that the responsibility for your loved one’s living arrangements is yours.

Regardless of your initial reaction, you, your loved one, and other family members should carefully consider whether the move is really the best idea in the long run. To avoid making a rash decision, read and answer the following questions.

  • Is your relationship with your loved one open and honest? If so, has it always been this way?
  • Have there been any past conflicts? If so, what were they and how were they resolved?
  • What kind of living conditions can you offer your loved one? Will the space allow him or her to have privacy? Will this interfere with the privacy of other family members?
  • If necessary, can you easily adapt your home to accommodate your loved one’s disability or mobility problems? Would you be willing to do so?
  • How much care does your loved one need? Can you realistically provide the necessary care?
  • If outside care is needed, are you willing to make those arrangements? Have you and your loved one discussed long-term care?
  • Has your loved one considered moving in with other family members (e.g., brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.)? How do these individuals feel about your loved one moving in with you? If anyone is resentful, are you prepared to deal with this?
  • Have you discussed the move with your immediate family members? How do they feel about the situation? If anyone is resentful, are you prepared to deal with this?
  • How do you feel about sharing the items in your household with your loved one?
    Will your loved one be upset by the rules by which you run your household? Are you ready to state and stick to your rules if your loved one challenges them?
  • If your loved one moves in, and the situation doesn’t work out, are you willing to make alternative living arrangements for your loved one?
  • If the situation doesn’t work out, are you willing to deal with your loved one’s frustration at having to move or with his or her desire to move if you do not agree?
  • If your loved one does move out, what are the possible short-term emotional consequences? (For example, your children are upset because they wanted grandma to live with you.) What about the long-term emotional consequences? (For example, your mother is upset because she feels that you abandoned her.) Are you prepared to deal with these?

Step back and assess your answers and then discuss the questions and answers with everyone in your household and with your loved one. Be honest in your feelings and answers to each question and encourage others to do the same. Each family’s decision is different and you know your family best. Obviously, if more of these questions produce answers that you perceive to be negative, finding other living arrangements for your loved one may be the best answer. If more of your answers are positive, and all concerned agree to give it a try, having a loved one move in with you can be an extremely rewarding experience. Regardless of the decision you make, maintaining a strong relationship with your loved one—as well as his or her health and safety—is the most important thing.

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