Problem #4: Dad's caregiver moves her family into the house.
What happens: When a caregiver has been in an older adult's life for a long time, she can begin to feel like family. And with housing scarce and expensive and many seniors living alone, it's surprisingly common for caregivers to ask if there's room for one more. Often a temporary request from a caregiver ("Could my son stay here for a few days while he's in town?") turns into a permanent situation. When that happens, "family" takes on a whole new meaning.
What to watch for: Stories of adult children who are out of work, siblings or spouses who are ill or disabled, anyone who "needs a break" or has some other personal issue going on.
What to say: Avoid direct criticism, since your parent's impulse was to be generous to someone he depends on, an admirable trait. Now that he's being taken advantage of, though, he's liable to feel embarrassed and ashamed, experts say, and criticism will just make him feel worse. Help him get out of the situation without embarrassment by saying, "Dad, it was so nice of you to let Janey move her son in; I know you meant well and it was such a kind thing to do. But it's been long enough, and we're not doing him any favors by letting him live here -- he needs a push to get on his own two feet. And it's just getting too crowded; I want you to be able to have some peace." This way the two of you are on the same side and can approach the caregiver as a united front.
What to do: Confrontation is unavoidable in this instance, but avoid the risk of tempers spiking by approaching it as a professional discussion. Visit the house and ask the caregiver to come outside to speak with you, so the discussion doesn't take place in front of the family members living in the home.
If your parent seems intimidated by the caregiver or the caregiver's family members, though, this is not an issue to be tackled alone. Call your Area Agency on Aging or Adult Protective Services and ask for help. These social service agencies have intervened in many such situations before (you'd be surprised how often) and will explain the possible steps you can take, including having a sheriff or policeman present while you evict the unwanted tenants.