A Checklist for Moving Elderly Parents Into Your Home

12.22.2020 Home & Motherhood
Dr. Habib Sadeghi
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According to the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), nearly 5 million elderly parents are living with an adult child in the U.S. While most people prefer to live independently as long as possible, extenuating circumstances involving health, finances, or the death of a spouse often make it necessary for the elderly to move into an adult child’s household.

Many people move their aging parents into their homes because they don’t want them to be cared for by strangers. Others do so out of a natural sense of duty to care for their parents the same way they were cared for as children. Nearly all do so to save money. Nursing homes regularly claim a person’s assets including cash, investments and home, as part of the contractual agreement. This is because nursing home care now costs an average of $7,000-$8,000 per month or between $80,000-$100,000 per year. Assisted living facilities cost about half at $48,000 per year.

Whatever your reasons for choosing to move your aging parent(s) or in-laws into your home, you should keep several things in mind before you do, as it’s a big decision, and it’s not all about money.

What kind of care will be needed?

If your loved one has a chronic illness, get to know it very well. Be sure you understand not only what their level of care demands today, but in six months, one year or five years from now as the condition progresses.

What level of personal care and supervision can you realistically provide?

  • Be realistic. Speak to your loved one’s doctor about the required level of care now and in the future, knowing it will likely increase over time.
  • Consider your schedule. Do you have children? Do you work full-time? Even if you’re confident you can provide the necessary care, you still must have the time to do it. Home health aides are available through agencies at daily rates between $20-$25 per hour.
  • Know your limits. If your loved one needs help with daily activities like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom, are both of you comfortable with you participating in these activities?

Can your home accommodate the person’s care needs?

Making your home handicapped accessible is essential not just based on your loved one’s present condition, but their state of health months or years from now. Various renovations, which can be costly, should be considered based on your loved one’s prognosis.

  • Wheelchairs and walkers require doorways to be 36 inches wide. $500-$1,000
  • Building a ramp for access to the house. $1,000
  • Installing an automatic lift to avoid stairs in the house. $3,000
  • Converting a den or secondary room into a bedroom. $1,500-$5,000
  • Low threshold shower with seat and grab bar. $2,000-$3,000
  • Grab bars for sides of toilet. $200
  • A new master bedroom suite. $100,000

Will family members be contributing to the expenses?

A report from AARP titled Valuing the Invaluable showed that Americans with parents living at home spent an average of $7,000 per year on their related care including renovation costs, transportation, and other expenses. Is your budget able to absorb these kinds of costs or can siblings help contribute, too?  Consider these issues, as well:

  • Have your loved one contribute to renovations or pay rent.  If your parent pays rent, you’ll have to claim that income on Schedule E for tax purposes, but additional expenses for increases in electricity, food and so on can be counted against that income.
  • If you cover more than half of your parent’s expenses for the year and their income is below $4,000 (Social Security usually doesn’t count), you may be able to claim them as a dependent on your taxes.
  • If professional care is required so you can go to work, you may be able to claim those expenses as dependent care tax credits.
  • If you and a sibling cover no more than half of your parent’s expenses, while contributing at least 10%, one of you can claim them as a dependent through IRS form 2120. You can even rotate who gets to claim the deduction each year.
  • If your parent receives Medicaid, you may be able to get paid for the care you provide. Most states have a Cash and Counseling Program that allows eligible elderly adults to “hire” a caregiver, which could include an adult child or other relative, for the care they are provided. The chosen caregiver usually receives an hourly rate that is less than the state’s hourly average for home care.

How do your other family members feel about the potential move-in?

  • Are your children excited about the move-in? Will the arrangement help them bond with their grandparent(s) in new ways?
  • If it is your parent, does your spouse have a good relationship with his/her in-law?
  • What plans are in place to ensure everyone’s privacy?
  • Consider changes like noise levels and each person’s particular preferences and styles.

How well do you get along with this relative?

  • Consider your history with this person and be honest as to whether you can reside in the same house. The only thing more difficult than bringing a parent or in-law into your home to live, is asking them to leave.
  • If the two of you have never really gotten along, don’t expect it to change now.

What kind of social life will your loved one have?

  • Moving to a new home often means leaving friends. How will your loved one maintain a social connection in their new location?
  • If you and your spouse work while your children are in school that leaves a lot of alone time for your loved one. Have you made provisions for social interaction? Stagnation accelerates physical and mental deterioration.

For more health insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit beingclarity.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram at @drhabibsadeghi.

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