Setting up house
If you have a spare bedroom on the first floor of your house, you're in good shape. If not, perhaps you can convert a dining room, den, or office into a bedroom.
Choosing a space
- Could an attic or basement room be converted into a bedroom, which could then be used by one of your children while the older adult takes the child's old room on the first floor?
- There should be enough privacy so everyone feels comfortable. Will you need to add on a room to have enough living space? This could easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, but it could still be cheaper over the long run -- and might make the person happier -- than an assisted living situation.
As an alternative, if it's a parent you're dealing with, you might want to consider selling your home and your parent's current home and buying a larger place that will make everyone more comfortable. Many families pool their resources in this way to find a better living space for themselves and their elderly parent. If you have siblings, this decision also involves them, of course, because at least part of any future inheritance would be used to purchase the larger home.
Making it just like home
- If possible, bring some of the older adult's furniture into your home, like a favorite couch or reclininer. Even if it doesn't fit with your decor, this touch of home will help her feel more at ease from the beginning.
- If she has a pet, try to make room for it in your house. Giving up a pet could be very difficult, and having a beloved animal will help lessen the loneliness she may feel while getting used to her new environment. Of course, you'll have to consider whether her pet can get along with your pets and children. You may also need to make some changes to your home and yard (such as fencing it in) to accommodate a dog.
- Get her a cell phone to give her a greater sense of independence and help her feel connected to the outside world. This will make it easier for her friends to call her directly, without bothering other family members. And it's a good way for her to get help in an emergency. An extra line with its own number will cost as little as $10 a month if you already have a cell phone plan. If she isn't adept with cell phones, the handset could be programmed so she only has to touch one key (say, the 1 key) to call you and a different key to call the local police department.