Many families are extended or multigenerational. While others could live harmoniously, to some this is quite a challenge. Personality conflicts, financial problems, and health issues make many situations impractical. But for those who are in this situation and have a desire to take in a senior in the household, here are some ideas that will make living with Grandpa or Grandma an enriching and productive experience.
Provide them with their own private space.
This room or space will serve as their retreat from the rest of the family, where they can rest, take a nap, read, watch TV, or just relax. Respect their space and let the entrance there be only by invitation.
Prepare for the inevitable role reversal.
This may happen gradually, but eventually, one day you will realize that now your parent is a child and you are the parent. When this change happens, your parent, just like a child, will rely more on you for decision making and approval. The frustration happens when there will be moments that they rely on you while they still try to retain their independence and question the decisions you make.
Provide opportunities for them to be productive.
This can take the form of hobbies, gardening, housework, home repair, needlework, special projects, or even online writing. Whatever the task, it should belong to them and they should receive complete recognition for its completion.
Respect and provide for their spiritual and intellectual needs.
Magazine subscriptions, book clubs, group activities, classes, church activities, and some form of entertainment are some categories that meet these needs.
Provide a safe environment.
Most accidents happen at home; and for seniors, the greatest safety hazards are falls on the stairways or slips in the bathtub. Be sure these areas have proper railings and handholds. Keep stairways and hallways uncluttered. Provide adequate lighting, including night lights for their nocturnal wanderings. Be sure smoke alarms are located and maintained in appropriate locations in the house.
Provide a pet for their companionship, if possible.
Every person has a strong need to care for some living thing. Pets fill this need beautifully, and, unlike humans, are always enthusiastic recipients of our affection.
Consider these tips when you plan to take in your grandparents or parents. You may soon realize that leaving the elderly to live alone or sending them prematurely to care homes can be a terrible waste of human resources. Enjoying our parents in their later years should be a part of our heritage, and our memory of those years should be a part of their immortality.