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Live with Family or Move to Assisted Living — The Pros and Cons

No subject elicits strong opinions quite like the topic of intergenerational living. Should a parent move into the household of an adult child, or choose a residence in assisted living? There are as many perspectives on this as there are family members who’ll be affected by the decision. It’s safe to say this is one of the most important and delicate decisions a family can make. You should consider it carefully and weigh all sides of each position before choosing one plan or another. Here are the pros and cons of assisted living versus what it might be like living with family.

Taking care of our own

For some seniors and their adult children, living together is the only acceptable option when a parent can no longer live on their own. “After all,” goes the reasoning, “we’re family.” Parents take care of children and then children take care of parents. Often there is a spoken or implicit promise underlying this expectation. Sometimes, deep-seated mistrust of professional caregivers plays into this thinking as well. And in a best-case scenario, all-in-the-family intergenerational living has a lot to offer:

  • Adult children know their parent(s) are safe and close by.
  • Seniors feel love, peace and acceptance when they need it most.
  • Mealtimes, holidays and family events can take on special meaning.
  • Grandparents and grandchildren are able to spend time together.
  • Senior family members may be able to babysit or help around the house.
  • They may be able to contribute financially as well.
  • It’s probably less expensive than choosing assisted living.

That’s the ideal scenario. But what can actually happen? Things can go downhill quickly. Why? People prefer to live by their own rules. Everyone needs privacy and independence, and the intimacy of shared living space can simply be too much of a good thing.

Is everyone up to this?

Defining one’s physical and emotional space within a multigenerational household may be more challenging than anyone expected. Rules and boundaries need to be set beforehand. Is the living space large enough to accommodate the needs of children, teenagers, and seniors who may be starting to face health challenges? Will some family members have to double up on sleeping quarters? Will you need to build an addition to your home?

Seniors in this situation may come to feel trapped within the dependency of the arrangement. Adult children may feel stuck and unhappy in their own homes, facing the uncomfortable prospect of telling their parents the arrangement isn’t working and they should look for alternative options.

The challenge of family caregiving

Even if the social/emotional family dynamic remains positive, a loved one’s need for care and attention is only likely to increase as they grow older. How comfortable are you helping a parent with daily activities like bathing, dressing, or going to the bathroom? If your parent’s health continues to decline, you may need to become a full-time caregiver. Would you know what to do in that situation? Is your home equipped to handle what’s needed, or will you have to purchase medical specialty items? What about your own physical and mental health? So-called “sandwich generation” people are caught between taking care of themselves, their kids and their parents. Is it possible you’ll have to change your work schedule, quit your job, or bring in extra help?

Before caring for an elderly parent at home, talk with their doctor and any specialists they may be seeing. Try to determine if you’ll be able to manage your parent’s chronic illnesses or physical limitations. If memory loss or cognitive decline are present, this should factor into your decision whether or not to live together. These subjects, along with accepting the idea that assisted living can be a solution, can be difficult to broach with parents who may be resistant to change. But if you start the conversation, you’ll get there. This article will help show you how.

The role of assisted living

Assisted living is not like living in a nursing home. You can read for yourself how they differ. Certain key advantages of choosing assisted living — either a stand-alone residential assisted living community, or as part of a continuum of care in a full-service senior living community — are designed to address the same difficulties you’ll encounter when an aging parent lives with you in your home:

  • Your loved one has their own private residence
  • Meals, housekeeping and maintenance are all taken care of
  • Help with activities of daily living is provided discreetly and professionally
  • Nurses and physicians are available in the event of an emergency
  • Social interaction is built into the experience
  • Activities, exercise, entertainment and off-campus excursions are simplified
  • Seniors may well feel more independent in this setting

There are many more advantages to choosing assisted living for your loved one, and you can learn more about them here.

Are there disadvantages to choosing assisted living?

There can be disadvantages to any choice, depending on one’s unique circumstances. Some senior loved ones may wish not to be part of any community setting — or at least believe they won’t like it. If a private residence isn’t available, or if pets aren’t allowed, those could be potential sticking points. And to be fair, some of the best assisted living communities can be expensive, although a community won’t accept any resident who isn’t  financially qualified. The more you and your loved one learn about the positives associated with assisted living, the more you’ll come to consider it a potential option for your family. You can find cost information for assisted living options in Greater Denver here, in Utah here and you can learn ways to help ease your parent’s transition here.

The Ridge Senior Living

Assisted living at a Ridge community provides assistance with activities of daily living: eating, dressing, bathing, medication management and more. This assistance, along with living in a spacious, private, pet-friendly senior apartment, frees residents to enjoy every amenity, event, and learning opportunity that make our maintenance-free retirement communities so special. We invite you to learn more about assisted living at our communities in the Salt Lake City, Holladay, and Denver areas. Just contact us anytime to schedule your personal tour.