Living with family

Image: Living with family

By Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW

It’s difficult for most people to consider moving their loved ones into a care setting. Many boomers grew up watching their parents provide care for their grandparents and either it was an assumption or expectation, that when the time came, they would do the same. Despite the fact that multiple generations are no longer housed under one roof there are times when caregivers consider the possibility of moving your aging loved one into their home.

While a willingness on the part of an adult child/relative to do this is wonderful, this may not be the best solution in all situations and it is important to discuss and consider many factors before making this decision. Take time to determine the pros and cons as well as the implications to yourself and your family to the best of your ability before making such a move.

You might want to address/consider how this move will impact your loved one in terms of roles and responsibilities. For example: how will they handle their new role in your home? If they have been living alone for many years, how will they cope with living with others? If you have young children or teenagers living with you as well, perhaps kids with varying schedules, will they have difficulty with the constant activity and perhaps noise? Will a decrease in privacy and independence be problematic for them?

Also consider how it will impact you/your family. How might this impact your marriage and spouse? If you do have young children, do you think that the senior will interfere in discipline or decision making as it relates to the children? If you are juggling other responsibilities/jobs/children/schedules, consider how you will manage to include caregiving for them based on their current needs and potential future needs.

Are there other family members (who live in your home or who do not live with you) who are willing and able to help out? What are they willing to do? For how long are they willing to help out (is their commitment time limited)? If your loved one requires care you must consider if you can provide them with what they need safely and if you cannot will they agree to extra help in the home from outside? Consider as well, how this might impact you financially.

There is bound to be emotions for all involved that will play a role in this decision. Realistically, there may not be a solution that meets everyone’s needs and clearly there may be unforeseen fallout from whatever decision is made. In addition to considering the impact on all people involved, try to determine the underlying motivation for considering this type of a move. Is it because of guilt? Financial issues? Other things?

There are some motives that would not support a positive outcome and others that will enable a new living situation to work regardless of other factors. Every situation is unique and care should be taken to consider all angles before making any final decisions.

Do keep in mind that especially in situations where caregiving is difficult for whatever reason, sometimes allowing others, outside of the immediate family, to provide care is the best thing for all involved. Even if the ultimate decision is relocation to a care setting, doing so is not a reflection of how you feel about the person or your ability/desire to be a caregiver to them.

Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW is a former acute care hospital social worker, the author of the annual Ontario publication the "Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living &Long-Term Care®" and administrator of the affiliated national website

She is a seasoned lecturer and former educator at U of T School of Continuing Studies, sharing her knowledge with professionals, seniors and their families, by giving workshops and lectures at various venues on 'Senior Living Options' and related topics. Esther can be contacted at