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How to Live Comfortably and Happily with an Elderly Person

Updated on December 29, 2012

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.

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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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    • profile image

      Tlou 

      3 years ago

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    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Lizam1, thanks for sharing your family's experience with having your parents live with you. It's refreshing to know it was a positive experience because, as you mention, sometimes it doesn't work out so well.

      Ground rules and boundaries are important at the outset, as well as all individuals having a healthy respect for one another.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 

      5 years ago from Victoria BC

      A few years ago my parents lived in a separate and independent part of our home. Sadly due to health reasons I had to send them back to the UK. I would say it was very positive for us all and especially for my children. However, I have seen situations where the grandparents create a problem for the family. Groundrules and boundaries are certainly a necessity for all parties to make the arrangement work.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      MsDora, you have my deepest respect. Caring for and living with a parent with Alzheimer's disease can be trying even on the best days. I appreciate your read and comment. I wish you the best in this journey you have undertaken.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      I live with my mother who is an Alzheimer's victim. Somedays I become the parent, and yes, there are tons of emotions that surface. Respect--and patience are extremely important. Thanks for addressing this issue.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Kris Heeter, thanks for your dedication to home care for the elderly; I believe people who do that successfully and enjoy it to boot are special people.

      It can be rewarding to live with an elderly parent or relative whether you are a caregiver or not, but the right frame of mind going in can make all the difference.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who live with and care for an elderly parent. I've done home care for the elderly in years past and always enjoyed it but I could see how it would could hard for a daughter or son to live and take on the care responsibilities 24/7. You've offered some really great advice!

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