How to Set Boundaries When an Elder Loved One Moves In
When you are planning to move an elder loved one in with you, it is important that you set up boundaries from the beginning, and that those boundaries are communicated in a way that all parties involved clearly understand them. We all need space and we all need rules to make such a situation work. You may feel that setting boundaries will cause issues between you and your loved one, but the truth is that it’s really easy for resentment to come into the picture when planning, communication and boundaries are not set from the beginning.
One of the most important things you can do before an elder moves in is to spend considerable time with them in their own home. That way, you will have a clear picture of how much care they need as well as what role they could play in your household. Talk to your loved one’s doctor(s) so that you understand the conditions they are experiencing and how those conditions might progress over time.
Determine a Good Sense of Balance
Setting boundaries maintains balance in a tough situation. The elder cannot be treated like a guest because the family will be uncomfortable always having to portray their “company manners.” The family must still feel free to operate as they normally would. At the same time, the elder needs to feel that they are not invisible or a nuisance. The balance between the two is of the utmost importance.
Determine What Boundaries Are Important to You & Your Family
Some families want to include their loved one in everything and others want to still spend alone time with their spouse and/or children. Neither is right or wrong. Each family member may have different boundaries that will work for them and it is important to give each family member a voice in determining those boundaries.
Be Flexible & Communicate
While it is important to set up boundaries from the start, it is also important to remain flexible. Adding an elder loved one to your household is bound to shake things up and sometimes it is impossible to plan for what you don’t know may come up. So remain flexible, allow each family member to express his or her concerns as time goes on and make sure you address those concerns as they come up.
Give & Take
As a caregiver, you can’t constantly give and never get anything back. Every person in a household needs to provide some give and take. Think of ways you can compromise so that each family member, your elder loved one, and yes, you, are getting what you need to make the situation work.
Help Your Loved One Feel Like He or She Contributes to the Household
Depending on the condition of your loved one’s state of health, there are likely things he or she can do to feel like a contributing member of the family. Your mother may not be up to babysitting, but maybe she is still great in the kitchen and could contribute by cooking some meals. Or maybe your dad’s health is so poor that he needs a lot of care and can’t handle doing much himself. In that case, find even the smallest ways he can contribute.
Hire Outside Help
The sandwich generation is overworked and stressed, having to handle their careers, managing their families and caring for a loved one at the same time. Hiring help is important to ensure that you can continue playing the roles you have undertaken. While your elder may resist outside help, it is important to set those boundaries up prior to moving him or her in with you. Whether he or she agrees with it or not, you need to do what is going to work for you and your family. You shouldn’t feel bad about hiring help, and the good thing is that home care aides can be hired on an as needed basis for as little or as much time as you need.