Face it, times are tough.
Families are more strapped financially than ever.
Can you afford to stay in your own home?
Are you a boomer or sandwich generationer wondering how to care for/pay for your kids, your parents and save for your own retirement? Are you recently widowed or retired and wondering how you’ll make ends meet?
There are many reasons why family living, or family caregiving is a great option-it’s easier to take care of your loved ones if they’re living with you, most people prefer being with or near family, you tend to get better care from relatives and close friends, and it’s cheaper.
No wonder 80% of the elderly population rely on family caregiving.
In today’s precarious economy, it might just be a necessity.
You might be the type of person who would rather live in your own home or with someone you know rather than move into a care facility. Besides, care costs are astronomical. Even with medicare and medicaid, there are still a lot of hidden and unexpected costs, not to mention how challenging it is to find a care facility where you enjoy the people and the staff and get the care you need and deserve.
I know of several friends and neighbors who had lost their jobs due to downsizing, budget cuts, and forced (or high encouraged) early retirement. Gas is four dollars a gallon and I almost paid ten bucks for a two pound bag of cherries at the grocery store today. I told the cashier I wouldn’t be buying those, thank you very much.
The strapped economy is hitting everyone, particularly the elderly who have to have their meds, pay for rising electricity costs still get to their doctor appointments. These aren’t luxuries. Nursing home costs are staggering, and not all are covered my medicare and medicaid. On average, the daily cost for a care facility s $350.00 a day-and memory impaired units range from about $450.-700.00 a day. A day.
But moving in with your adult children might not be ideal either.
Most people want to remain independent for as long as possible.
How do you stay in your own home?
Plan early. Consider long term care, but make sure you go with a reputable company who will be in business and honor their contracts for years to come.
When you buy what you think will be your last home, consider city, driving distance, doctor’s, care facilities, and senior resources. Can you live there after you can no longer drive? Can you use a community van or are there taxis? Is your home/bedroom on the first floor? Can you manage the maintenance of your house and yard? Plan, plan, plan.
Buy property and build a smaller house or a garage that could be converted for a caregiver or family member. It’s an investment you’ll get to keep-and when or if you need to sell, it’s only improved your property value.
Consider renting a room-to another senior and split certain home or home health care charges
Convert a garage or attic and rent to a relative or younger person. You might even consider rent in in exchange for services-college age, divorcees, and many people would benefit from this arrangement as well as nieces or nephews just starting out in life.
Build an apartment onto your home-or if you do move into your children’s home, build one onto theirs so you still have privacy and can come and go as you please.
As time goes on, consider a small group home run by a licensed care worker who only takes in 4-8 persons-usually, the charges are less although they can do less for you medically, so consider your health and medical needs in making this decision
How to Live with Family Members Without Hating Each Other
Establish rules up front-realistically know you’ll have differences and times when you need to talk honestly about what’s bothering you. Make sure you can sit down and do this knowing you’ll be heard and respected-and that you offer the same in return.
If you have young adults or college age young adults living with you, try not to judge or comment on every aspect of their life–they need to make their own mistakes–and learn from them. Let them know that you’re there, you’ll be glad to listen or offer advice–if they ask for it.
Try not to get hung up on having everything your way. Learn to compromise. It’s okay if someone buys a different laundry detergent than you’re used to. Pick your battles and try to have as few squirmishes as possible.
Know that there will be a honeymoon time, and a time of disillusionment when you wonder if you made the right decision-but also know that this too will pass.
Accept that change is inevitable. Don’t pine away for what once was-embrace the now and choose to find the good in each day.
Give each other privacy-still knock and be considerate of quiet, rest, and alone time.
Be sensitive-if your loved one is acting odd, they might be going through something they can’t share or verbalize-there’s a time to be tender and patient with each other.
Plan certain meals or times together-but don’t overdo it.
Hire caregiving or chore help-don’t expect your family to do it all.
Find ways to be needed and give. Help out-offer to do a consistent job.
Try not to complain about your health or living conditions-everything may not be perfect, but it still might be better than your other choices.
Refrain from commenting on their life choices-how they dress, where they go to church (or not), the state of their marriage-do more listening than advising.
Make friends and connections, don’t rely on your family to be your everything.
Smile, be easy to get along with, and show gratitude-it’s contagious, so maybe you’ll get some in return.
If you do have an issue, don’t let it fester. Sit down, say your peace, have a possible solution in mind, and then deal with it and let it go
About six months to a year after moving in together, you’ll begin to settle, but that’s when the honeymoon period starts to wear off–be willing to ride out that first period of disillusionment. It’ll take up to two years for it to feel like home. You might feel lonely at times, lost and undefined.
Be sure to reach out to your new community-join a club, a senior citizen center or a church-make new friends-even if it’s hard or scary, it’ll be worth it. We all need friends.
Elders, accept your place of honor and dignity-you hold a special place in the family, but you have to know that and own it first before anyone else does. Embody a sense of wisdom, confidence, and respect within yourself-others will begin to sense it when they’re around you.
Expect that at some point you’ll have a big fight or misunderstanding. Families do those kinds of things. It’s okay. Forgive each other. Be quick to say, “I’m sorry.” Laugh about it. Even if there were yelling and pouting involved, so what? People act crazy at times. Who else can you act up with other than your family?
Family caregiving is part of who we are. No amount of money can buy love. If you’re blessed enough to have a brave enough family who are willing to be together, love and care for one another in one way or the other, be grateful.
I was a family caregiver. I brought my mother, who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, into our home. We built her an apartment onto our home. She lived with us for close to three years. So I know what caregivers face. I know how hard at times, it could be-the physical work, the emotional undertow that gets kicked up, the strain of living together after years of running your own house. All this takes some getting used to.
It’s okay to be mad, hurt, or frustrated with a family member. Families are resilient. They know how to love fierce and forgive easily (or in some cases, eventually). As my friend and fellow author Cheryl Kaye Tardif says, “It’s not about how to live with your family without hating them-it’s about living with your family without killing them! You can hate all you want!”
Emotions come and go. Family commitment runs deep.
Life changes and people aren’t perfect, but a family is a great thing to have.
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon