moving parents in with us

dcrowexOctober 12, 2009

My inlaws are in their 80s and we have decided to move them in with us. They are lovely people, basically self sufficient with average health problems related to this age. However, they are several states away and we have offered for them to move in with us so we can care for them and they have accepted. The issue - we have a 2 story house and they cannot handle steps. Stair rails or platform risers are not an option - they are afraid to be on the second floor.

So we are converting my current formal living room/dining room into a suite for them, adding a shower to the 1/2 bath. we are prepared to make whatever accomodations they need to make them comfortable. this is going to cost quite a bit but we will manage it somehow.

any suggestions on making this transition easier? how to handle the set up of these rooms? we are having a private entrance to their bathroom added so they dont have to come out to the main living area each time. my MIL is on oxygen and my FIL has had double hip replacement. The easiest option would have been to give them the master bedroom on the second floor and simply install a walk in shower but they cannot and do not wish to have the stairs.

we are still trying to figure out after meeting with installers, how to go about this construction. has anyone else had to do this? remodel the house to accomodate the family? i just hope we are making it is livable and lovable as I have in my mind.

guess i am just thinking out loud.


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Just a couple of thoughts....

1) From the work and adjustment you've described, I'm wondering if a new/different house might be better. Appears to me you're preparing to make changes that may make your present house into a very unattractive re-sale later.

2) May I assume you've got or are intending to get the documents you will need/want? Durable powers of attorney; medical powers; living will?

3) If there are other interested family members, are they on-board with your intentions?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 7:52PM
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Sorry, but I hope you have thought this through? It is a big undertaking for you and I commend you for what you are trying to do. What if 6 months down the road you find it's more you can do? My sis told me our Mom would never go to a care home as long as she was well enough to take care of her. She pictured Mom in the condition your inlaws are in and in a few months it can be much more that you expected, giving enimas, changing diapers, wiping b***s and getting them in and out of the bath. More stress than you can possibly imagine. I took care of my husband for 5 years with Alzheimer's and would never take on that kind of responsibility again. It caused life threatening problems for me, vascular problems in the brain due to stress. He has been gone 2 and 1/2 years and am just now recovering.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 8:05PM
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Remeber that with that age, what would work today, might be impossible tomorrow.

You are talking about major changes to your home. You may think that it's selfish not to do these things, but it may be useless in a short while. Either one one of them could have a serious stroke tomorrow and require nursing home care/

Is there a nearby assistied living facility? I would also consider looking for another home for all of you that might suit better without such major changes.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:52PM
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You really do need to look at the overall costs in a variety of scenarios. The point others have made about one or both parents needing much more time-consuming and costly care is a good one.

Run some scenarios, including a 2 yr, 5 yr and 10 yr. What is the cost of home health services in your area? What can you afford to pay out as a percent of your current net income and total worth? If the changes affect the resale of your home, factor in how much it would cost to reverse those changes. Is it truly affordable, or are you allowing your kind instincts to overrule what this will actually cost you and your spouse in your own retirement dollars?

Depending on the services and senior facilities in your area, it may be that putting them into assisted living might be a better use of your and their money. There are always additional costs that families incur in making sure their elderly relatives are as comfortable as possible in these kinds of places, so your $$ may be best spent elsewhere.

If you are able and willing to have them in your home, it is certainly a wonderful thing and I'm sure they will appreciate it. But it is, at best, a relatively short-term arrangement. Recognize this, and plan appropriately.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:28PM
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Gosh, thank you all so much for your responses. We have been looking at this for a very long time now. The situation is that they lived next door to my SIL in another state but she lost her home and now they are very isolated where they are with no one around. We have discussed in general terms about living facilities, condos, etc, but none of those options are even remotely attractive to them and they would have never considered the move.

We offered for them to move in with us and they readily agreed. The other family members are on board - they all live in this same state as them, but none are able to assist in any care that may be needed down the road. they either live to far away or are not financially able. This is why we wanted to make the move now...while they were still doing reasonably well. Of course we know that can change tomorrow.

They are lonely and I know they would be so happy with us but you are right, there are major reconstruction plans needed on our house and we may not get the money back out of it. But, another house is not really an option right now. To get a bigger house would take time and money and we feel like we are on limited time to make this move. Plus, we would need to sell our house or be close to a sale to make a move. We might be able to find a big one floor plan but this all is going to take months and months and we are somewhat limited to where we live due to other family concerns. And we do like where we live as well.

We are in the process of obtaining the medical records and all that will be needed. MIL is on oxygen, but she does fine with it and just drags her hose all over the house. Never smoked but a surgery years ago left her lungs damaged from not enough oxygen. Anyway, I have worked out the arrangements to fly her home with a TSA approved oxygen kit to get us where we are going.

Our hearts want them with us, despite what will come tomorrow or years from now. We may be totally screwed on our house unless someone will be looking for a house like this.

A good example...just last night my MIL wrote me she is bleeding from the rectum but hadn't told anyone....sheesh...if she were here I would have known that. She only told me. Are we prepared? Of course not. I guess we will learn as we go....I know it will not be an easy road when they begin to have serious health failures which is why we wanted to get them here so we can watch them, as opposed to trying to do this if something happens.

Thanks to you all so much for sharing your thoughts and feedback. Very helpful.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 4:17PM
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OK, think about this. Do you have space on your lot to add on the back or side of your house? A bedroom with a handicap bath? It might even be cheaper than what you planned. The extra room would even make your home more desirable later.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 10:37PM
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Agnespuffin has a good idea. It may be easier to add a bedroom to the existing house with a handicap bath than to reconfigure your entire downstairs. You could easily add a outside doorway complete with a ramp. This would actually increase the value of your house and leave the rest of your house untouched.

And, as others have pointed out, their physical & mental conditions may deteriorate to the point that you'll need outside help and may even have to consider placement in an assisted living facility, memory care facility, or skilled nursing facility. It's important to keep an open mind and be prepared for possible changes in their care needs. If the day comes when you are no longer to able to care for them in your home, don't suffer feelings of guilt. No one knows for certain what the future may hold.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 1:52AM
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May I assume your location has easy access to doctors and pharmacies?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 10:19AM
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I wish you luck with this. It sounds as though you have given it a great deal of thought. I converted almost one entire end of my house for my MIL when she moved in. Thank goodness my house was configured in such a way I COULD do it without knocking out walls. It was pretty much a matter of moving a lot of my stuff out to the shed and moving her stuff in. We were lucky that the doorways were wide enough for wheelchairs or walkers and we had to do very little to make it accessable for whatever may happen. We have had to put in hand rails here and there for her. If anything should happen to her, it would just be a matter of moving her things out and moving mine back in. ( that sounds so awful). It's very important for all of you to have your own space. Believe WILL need it. I love my MIL and I'm glad she is with me, but everyone needs their own space.
Get a Power of Attorney now. Meet with their new physicians if possible. It may come to the point where you will have to be the ones who dispense medications and decide about medical issues. Know where and what all their important papers are- life insurance policies, health insurance, retirement, marriage lic. social security, you may have to be their voice someday.
Good luck with all this and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 3:37PM
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fallingdowngobump makes an excellent point. Do you have not only power of attorney, but also do both parents have the current Advanced Health Directive forms with POLST (Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) inclusion? I mention the latter because it is a new form (came out Jan 2009) and earlier AHDs don't include these specific paragraphs on how a person wants to handle end-of-life decisions.

Good luck to you going forward.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 10:32PM
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One more thing to check on..... The Power of Attorney.

Some banks require one of their own in addition to the regular one. It may spell out in great detail what you can and cannot do with their money. I found out about this stumbling block the hard way. Had I not been VERY well known at my mother's bank, I may not have had access to her safety deposit box, or her CDs. It would have been a big problem. The deeds to her house were in the box and we needed to put in up for sale when she went to a nursing home.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 11:23PM
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again, thanks for all the advice. we had not gotten that far as the power of atty but honestly, i had not thought much about that yet, probably because they are still of sound mind. but that is something i will bring to my husbands attention. in fact, i am telling him all i am reading in here. sometimes you get so caught up in what you are doing, you miss things like this. we do plan to meet the drs and take care of all that. the construction thing really will only allow us to add the shower and a new raised toilet , add a door opening, etc, to give them a private entrance. we cant really add on. we had three good options and it seems like this one would still allow us, down the road, to get it back to a living room and dining room if need be. again, thanks to everyone. you feedback and advice have been most helpful.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Debbie, as you can see, getting the paperwork in order is critical whether or not they move in with you. There's more than a power of attorney, as well. Also remember that a power of attorney is no good if the person dies; the power dies with them.

For all of us, remember that being of sound mind right now can change with a stroke or accident or any number of other critical and split-second events that may touch our lives.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:22PM
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POA will cover after death if you have it written in. Mine says that my POA can pay any outstanding bills and my funeral bill after my death.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:25PM
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POA ends at death.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:36PM
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Not if it is written in the document, and my attorney was an estate attorney.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 7:07PM
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Not wishing to engage in attorney-wars, but if that's true in your state, it would be the only one I know of.

Google "POA at death" and have fun -- as your survivors will have when they find your accounts frozen after you die.

I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. However I'm thinking you have bad advice or have misunderstood.

POA terminates at death. After that the personal representative named in the will is in charge. I would welcome correction if you find out otherwise. I learn new stuff all the time.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 8:01PM
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It's my understanding also that POA ends at death and the executor takes over. That happened in our family recently. Another person was POA for DH's uncle and on uncle's death, POA ended and DH took over as executor.

I would second the recommendation to look into assisted living in your area. DH and I are senior citizens (in our 70's and in good health) who moved into a retirement community one year ago. We live in a villa and ablsolutely love it. Our daughter is disabled and I know she was concerned about who would take care of us when we needed it because she couldn't. She is relieved that we are in a place with continuing care if we need it down the road.

There are tons of activiies for residents here. You could be busy every day. Do you or your husband work? If so, your parents would be home alone most of the day, whereas if they were in an assisted living facility, there would be many things for them to do if they desired. If transportation is needed for doctor's appts, it is provided. Also, there are weekly van trips to the supermarket.

In the apartments, all meals are provided, which might be an attractive proposition for people like your inlaws. As someone mentioned, if you go to all the trouble of remodeling your house and then they have to go into assisted living or nursing care, it would have been in vain.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 9:55PM
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I just wanted to add that this community has plans to build another type of resident facility for assisted living which will consist of private bedrooms and a dining room where the residents congregate for meals and a common room for conversation and socializing. It's more like an actual home. The residents can be private in their rooms or when they want company, they can join others in a common room.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Some people can't afford an assisted living. When I was checking on a care home for Mom and my husband I was told medicare does not pay for assisted living. I will put myself in one when I need it. You have to be sure that the care home you want does medicare. There are a couple of care homes here in our city of 360,000. that does not do medicare.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 2:23PM
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Yes, assisted living can be expensive. However, prices range and some careful shopping might turn up something affordable. Also, you could consider Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCF's) that accept an SSI check, and/or possibly a Social Security check as payment. Doing research is necessary to find the right fit for the particular situation.

Most counties and states have a department on aging as does the federal government. The more information you have about programs and assistance available, the better your decision will be.

Moving an elderly loved one into your home is not the only option. And it's not always as cheap as you might think. I found that out when my mom stayed with us for several months. Her almost total incontinence plus her belligerence at the time, limited mobility, and wandering made me seek extra help. She could not be left alone and my husband was too ill to watch her. I hurt my back from the constant care. Eventually the cost of the extra in-home help plus other things got close to what she was paying at her old AL. That, along with my own declining strength, made me seek out another AL for her.

Here is a link that might be useful: Administration on Aging

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 3:06PM
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Speaking from experience...get ready to fasten your seatbelts. This is going to be the ride of your life (not necessarily a good one, though). My husband and I are doing this for my own parents and it has been the worst mistake I have ever made in my life. My father fell within a month of moving in. Broke his hip. On-going doctor visits have just about cost me my job. We're now looking into hospice care due to complications of that fall 4 years ago. Now for my mom. She stopped eating, cooking, any kind of care for herself after my dad went into the nursing facility. Any day now I am expecting her to fall down and break her hip, too. I have not been anywhere except work, doctor's offices, & hospitals. Oh, and did I mention my marriage has fallen apart? Looking back, an assisted living facility would have made all 4 of us happier. Hope you have better luck...

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 10:01PM
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oh my guanut, i am SO sorry. this sounds like this has been extremely difficult on everyone. I guess i have worried about all the things you mentioned. my inlaws live is a secluded area and crime rate is starting to rise. they are lonely, afraid to be alone (i think), over 30 min to the nearest hospital. my FIL is a gruff old navy man but as sweet as pie. he would never in a million MILLION years have considered this and everyone in the family is stunned that when we offered, he jumped on it. this speaks volumes to us. for all the reasons listed, plus he cannot manage a house/yard any longer, he worries about the care of MIL in case something happens to him, on and on. we approached the idea of condos, assisted living, or a one floor house, everything you can think of. maybe if we could have found them a house, it might have been one thing but i dont think they want to live alone anymore and assisted living and condos were out of the question. if they had no options, they were going to stay put. which left us to extend the option to move in with us.
we have nearly completed installing the shower and have added doors and such, and we will get them in january. needless to say, yes it has been stressful somewhat so far but harder on my husband i think. men seem to not be able to manage a lot of things or drama, etc , as well as women. i feel like i am keeping my own emotions in check to try and hold him up. his stress seems to not be coming from them moving in, but with the animals they are bringing - a dog and 2 cats. we have two dogs. we had a cat that died earlier this year but did urinate on things on the lower level so he is worried these cats will mark their territory. although many tell me most normal healthy cats wont do this.
again, we knew this was a package deal. FIL was not leaving without his pets, although he may end up not bringing the cats and the dog is a very good dog. but like i tell my husband over and over, .....everything is temporary. it wont be this way forever. we have limited time with them. i worry about all you have said, falling, breaking a hip, etc.
i am so sorry this has been so hard on you. i hope things get better very soon for you. i have been following all the posts in here and there is so much good info and feedback, i really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 5:59AM
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Some care homes are placed in an area with duplexes and houses for rent, where every thing is taken care of. You have to show up for one meal a day so they know you are ok. I know someone who moved into a duplex and they said it was the smartest decision they had ever made and that they should have done it much sooner.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 12:50PM
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Hope things work out, but you forgot a big point. With the major construction, did you get permits? Also did you put in fire/smoke/carbon oxide detectors in each room? Are you collecting money from them? Are you prepared for someone to inspect the home? Are you prepared to be on call 24/7 without any breaks and are you prepared medically trained to handle any/all emergencies. These are things that should be done to protect yourself--in case they get hurt and someone sues--and they do--sad to say. Also check with your insurance company for compensation insurance to protect you.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 10:10PM
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I would like to bring up another point concerning modifying your home for accessibility. If your in-laws are in their eighties, you and your spouse are at an age where you are probably thinking about your own retirement situation. If you want to stay in your current home, putting in accessible features that will accommodate things like wheelchairs will make that much easier as you age. Also, the aging population means that housing with well-designed accessible features are becoming more and more necessary. I had to move from my home when I became disabled. Fortunately I was able to find the perfect place already wheelchair ready. Think about what you would need as well as what they do.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 3:07PM
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