"Every family has its dirty laundry. No, there is nothing wrong with your family, it is we are just not prepared to deal with all of this."
"It took time for my sister and I to figure out how to manage our dad's care together."
We all love our family. We love celebrating the holidays and birthdays together. We love talking on the phone with our siblings. We love when they visit and when they leave, but now they are not leaving. Now a family member is living in your home. We all love our parents, our in-laws and our siblings; but the family dynamic changes when they move in with you or your with them.
In this section, we explore family issues and how the dynamics changes when a parent moves into your home. These are issues that my sister and I experienced when Dad moved in with us. We thought that we were the only ones having this experience. However, once we started talking with other Care Managers, we discovered that these issues were not unique to us.
Our goal in this section is to raise awareness family related challenges. This is not anything new. Every family goes through these struggles but they never talk about it. No one wants to air their family's dirty laundry but we are going to.
Shifting to a New Family Normal
When the time comes to move your Mom/Dad or your in-laws in with you and your family, this is when the new normal begins. It comes with a period of adjustment for everyone in the household to understand and accept all of the changes. It is not possible to address everything that is going on all at once. It takes time. However, finding ways for your parents to fit in is a place to start.
Fitting In: Try to find ways for them to help around the house; if they are able to. It will help them feel like part of the household. This may be as simple as having them make meals, clearing after mealtime, folding laundry, watering or tending to the garden, light house keeping, fix broken items around the house, walking kids to the bus stop, etc.
Contributing Financially: Another way to contribute to the household is financially. There is nothing wrong with coming up with a plan for your parent to contribute to things such as: groceries, utilities or TV service. If the decision is for them to pay "rent", consult with an Estate Planning attorney about how to set this up properly.
Every family is different; however, in order to figure out what works best for yours requires a conversation. Talk to your parents, as a family to come up with a plan that makes everyone comfortable. "Fitting In" will take time.
Remember fighting with your siblings when you were kids? Well, expect there to be more of it. You will encounter many difficult discussions with your siblings while on this journey addressing the current and future needs of your parents:
Where are they going to live?
Can you cover for me while I go out of town or on vacation with my family?
Can you take Mom/Dad to her afternoon appointment?
Can you come sit with Mom/Dad while I go on a walk?
Mom/Dad need help with covering some of their bills?
I'd like to get paid for the care I am providing? Visit AARP for more information.
I may have to quit my job to care for Mom/Dad full-time.
If I sell my home and move in with them, shouldn't I get their house or their estate?
We went through all of this. Visit our Blogs to read about our experiences. The issues are real, which is why it is important to plan for this stage in your parent's life now - together as a family.
Not comfortable with having this conversation with your siblings. It certainly will not be easy, but you do not have to do it alone.
There are several resources that may be considered to help your family work through these difficult decisions. They come in different forms.
Estate Planning Attorneys or Elder Care Lawyers perform services that are not always law related. They act as mediators who will help facilitate family discussions.
Another resource that offers family coaching are through Senior Care Advocates; like Erin Drwyer- Busch with Senior Care Authority. "Each family has its own dynamic and a coach can help make sure everyone is heard."
The take-away from this is knowing that there is nothing wrong with your family. We are just not prepared to deal with all of this so having access to resources will be the the key to keeping the peace within the family.
Supporting you through family drama
Your Home Work Assignment:
Identify which one of these best describes your Scenario
Slowly shift the family dynamic to include your parent as a new member of the household
Being a Caregiver is a mindset - Become an Enlightened Caregiver.