Caring for Your Parents: Moving In
ANCHORAGE - More and more aging parents are moving in with their adult children. It’s a trend that is likely to continue as the costs of nursing home care continue to climb. But inviting mom or dad to live with you permanently takes some adjustments, from both sides.
Mary Holmes knows that firsthand. She moved her mother to Alaska from Oregon after her father developed a particularly violent form of dementia.
“The situation was not good,” said Mary. “I didn’t know what we were going to do with my father but I knew, no matter what, I needed to bring my mom up here.”
A year and a half ago, Mary packed up her mother Jessie and brought her to live in Mary’s Anchorage home, along with Mary’s husband and teenage daughter. Mary said the move went more smoothly than she expected, but once her mother settled in she realized something else: Her mother had Alzheimer’s as well. Suddenly, even the immediate future was less clear.
“You have to try to stay a step ahead, you have to anticipate what's going to be next,” said Mary. “What do I need to do next? What’s going to be the next thing?”
Mary set about making her home as safe and comfortable as possible. She had handrails installed on the steps and made adjustments in the bathroom to help prevent falls. She furnished her mother’s bedroom with photographs of familiar faces. She said one thing that made the transition easier is that she knows her mother better than anyone else.
“I know what she likes, I know what she doesn’t like. I know what makes her happy, so for me, to put her in a home, a different home, would be very hard.”
Even so, Mary said, there have been challenges. Mary works from home, which means there are days when mom’s constant company can feel like too much.
“It’s like having a small child who’s not in school yet; it’s that kind of adjustment.”
Mary said having her own space is important for both her and her mother. Jessie has privacy in her room where she can retreat to read or write letters. Mary can close the door to her own bedroom so her mom knows that she needs some time alone.
Jessie also attends an adult day center one or two days a week, and the time socializing with others is something her mother has come to look forward to.
But for the most part the pair enjoy their time together. It’s something Mary said she’s reminded of every day and that she is thankful for. Her plan is to have her mother with her for as long as she can.
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