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Moving in with Family: Issues to Consider
By Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW
Too often, the decision to move into
a family member’s home is made when a crisis develops or
as a last resort. Sudden illness or injury strikes and
the family is left without a plan for long-term care for
their loved one. Experts suggest that all families
discuss the possibility of the need for long-term care,
and the possibility of family members living together as
a solution to the daily care situation. The following
are some items to discuss with all members of the family
before making such a move.
Is the home “elder friendly”? It is necessary to review
the setup of the home, in terms of stairs, additional
bedrooms, bathrooms and general safety issues. If home
modifications are needed, they should be completed prior
to the move.
How much care will the relative require? Daytime
supervision, medication management, meal preparation and
entertainment are just a few examples of important
issues to consider. Assess the level of assistance
needed now and in the foreseeable future. If the
relative is in poor health, who will be in charge of
providing the care? Will other family members share in
the caregiving duties? Establish basic rules and a care
routine to help prevent conflicts and caregiver burnout.
How do family members get along with each other? How are
conflicts dealt with? All families have their share of
problems and each family handles them differently. The
loss of independence is difficult for anyone and
reactions or behavior change is to be expected. It is
important to be able to talk about how everyone is
feeling and encourage the relative to continue with a
life of their own. Communication skills, including
active listening, are necessary in handling and
resolving conflicts successfully.
How will the change in household expenses be handled? An
increase in family size usually means an increase in
family expenses. Will the relative contribute? Are there
other family members who can help with financial
What is expected of the relative? What responsibilities
will they have for care of the home? If there is a
separate apartment, will everyone dine together? What
about family outings – will the relative always be
Avoid the feeling that the situation is permanent.
Start with a limited “trial period,” then review the
Once the move has been made to live together, it is very
important for all family members to have continual open
and honest communication with each other on all matters.
Don’t hold in your feelings – both positive and negative
feelings need to be shared.
If the health condition of the relative changes, and
additional care is needed, it is crucial for the family
to review the daily plan. If the situation requires help
outside the family, there are a number of alternatives
that the family and the relative can explore together.
Make sure that the relative is included in decision
making, if they are able. Some other options for care
include: daily home health aide or homemaker care, which
would also provide respite relief for family caregivers,
home based community care programs, friends and
neighbors, church outreach programs and dividing the
care responsibilities among the family by rotating care,
with the relative going to others’ homes, or by allowing
other relatives to come into the home to provide the
Families who maintain open and honest communication and
are willing to share in the financial and caregiver
responsibilities for a needy relative can successfully
reside together in the same home. Support can and should
be a two-way street. Where better to get the daily
support that we all need than from our family!