How to Live Comfortably and Happily with an Elderly Person
About the Author
No spring chicken myself, I've experienced living with an older parent. Like any live-in situation, it has its pros and cons, but in the final analysis, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
How to Live with Another Person
The responsibility for living happily and successfully with another person, whatever their age or yours, rests squarely on your shoulders. "What?" you say. "You mean the other person is free of responsibility?" Not exactly, but first and foremost your happiness, or lack of it, is your responsibility.
Setting realistic expectations, realizing compromise is going to be needed, being prepared for a period of orientation and development of routines and responsibilities will go a long way toward ensuring a positive experience for living with another person -- and these are all under your control.
Even people with divergent personalities can learn to cohabit successfully if ground rules are established from the beginning, and honored by both parties. Will it be challenging at times? Of course, no two people living together are going to do so without some conflict from time to time, but the rewards can also be enormous.
Living With an Elderly Person Who Is a Stranger
You might be choosing to live with an elderly person who is taking in a roommate, or an elderly friend of a friend who is willing to share their home, and expenses, with someone. Whatever circumstances bring you to live with an elderly person who is a stranger, there are some things you can do to make the new living situation successful:
- Before you agree to move in, you and the senior person should have an open and candid conversation about expected payment arrangements, house rules, groceries and cooking responsibilities, privacy, and use of the various parts of the home -- such as which are common areas, which areas are off limits
- If the senior has a lease he requires to be signed, read it entirely before signing it. If there are any areas of discrepancy, be certain that any verbalized agreements between you and the senior are added to the lease -- date and both sign any additions or changes.
- Document the informal agreement you and the senior reach before moving in. Again, date and both sign this list. It can be changed as time goes on and you both agree on the changes. Again, date and both sign the changes.
- Be prepared to deal with friends and/or family of the senior who are concerned about the senior's well-being. By "deal with" I mean to interact with them if they ask to meet you or speak with you. They have the senior's best interests at heart and may want to ensure they feel the senior is safe and happy with the living arrangement.
Living With an Elderly Parent or Other Relative
If you're going to be living with an elderly parent or another older relative, or if they may be coming to live with you, you'll want to follow the basic parameters detailed in "Living With an Elderly Person Who Is a Stranger."
Due to the fact that this senior person is not a stranger, there is likely to be an emotional element to this living arrangement. You and the senior person have a personal history. Expect that that history and the feelings it brings with it will impact your living situation. Some of the dynamics to your relationship with the senior person may be change during the live-in situation, depending where each of you are in your personal growth, maturity, and life circumstances.
It can be difficult for a parent to recognize you are also an adult, not the child for whom they cared. If this is true for you, have patience, act as an adult; the situation may change -- and it may not. Knowing that your parent loves you, even if s/he can't accept you are an adult should take some of the sting out of the situation.
Remember to show respect for the senior person's individuality and belongings. While you don't need to include the senior person in all your thoughts and plans, you should not exclude them from your personal life either. It can be tricky walking the line between too much and not enough, but if your motivation is one of mutual respect and caring, you'll find the going isn't that difficult.
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