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Should we move in with my parents?
Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 4:30 PM
Joined: 11/16/2018
Posts: 87

Hello caregivers!

I'm a secondary caregiver to my mother who has moderate dementia. My father is her primary caretaker (he is in relatively good health), but Mom rarely knows who he is and gives him quite a bit of grief because of it. I live only 15 min away and help out near daily. Part of me thinks that if my husband and I (and our dog) moved in with them, it would help take the emotional burden off of Dad, since Mom is nothing but love and light to me, and Dad wouldn't have to watch her so closely (and consequently get rebuffed when he does).

Are any of you in this situation? And did it help/hurt for you (and your spouse) move in with your parents? This is just a thought at this point, and Dad doesn't want to interrupt our lives any more than Mom's dementia has already. But I want to find out what other people's experiences are, just to get an idea of what I might be getting into.

Thanks in advance!

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 6:23 PM
Joined: 6/1/2022
Posts: 28

Interesting question, and as you probably guessed the answer will depend a lot on your family dynamics.  There are potential problems on both sides. 

 My experience is that moving back to my childhood home, even just temporarily, was incredibly demoralizing not to mention the death knell for my personal/social life.  On my mom's side...she didn't like having her adult children come back either.  In my sister's case, she reorganized the house quite a bit, with the best of intentions - but my mom hated the changes and told me  that she felt like she'd lost control of her house.

Everyone's situation is different, but...maybe you should look into the option of hiring an aide to help your dad.  You'll still have your hands full managing finances, filling pill boxes, communicating with aides almost daily etc.  But, you'll still have your own life, which is very important.

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 7:17 PM
Joined: 2/3/2018
Posts: 1146

I moved myself and my boyfriend in with my mom after my father died. It was the right decision for our family even if it's nobody's idea of the perfect situation, but my parents had a split level so there was some degree of separation (we were the downstairs people!). Nutty Professor is right, it depends on each family's situation. It sounds like you all get a long really well. Have you considered maybe just part-time live with your dad? Retain your current residence but give your dad a 2/3/4 day break each week by being there 24/7 for him. Then you still have your place to go back to.

It might be a good way to at least do a trial run.

Good luck to you and your family!

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 7:19 PM
Joined: 4/7/2019
Posts: 376

Taking care of someone with dementia can be overwhelming, physically and emotionally, and I understand about helping out your dad.  But everything NuttyProfessor says is also true, at least in my experience - something to consider. 

Before I placed my sister in memory care, I hired outside caregivers to help me out. They weren't there 24/7, but I had good coverage, and they were so good with my sister. Would your parents be amenable to caregivers?  You'd need to go through several interviews to find someone who will mesh well with your parents.

May flowers
Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 8:09 PM
Joined: 4/9/2021
Posts: 513

That’s a tough one, and I don’t have much to add to the good advice here  but one thing to consider is that her treatment of your dad will likely be the same treatment you and your husband get if you are there full time. You’d have to be ready to take that on. 

I don’t know what kind of set up they have and how much independence you all would have there. Having a room is a lot different than say an in law suite. Also, you’d have to see where your DH’s thinking is in this. I care for my FIL because he is like my dad and I am very close to him, so it works to have him here. 

We had my in-laws 15 minutes away and it was a lot of work to help support them but I don’t know that it would any easier if we lived there. My MIL had cancer and we had a caregiver, and that worked out wonderfully. We took care of home, yard, finances, dr. visits, etc., but the CG took care of the overnights which were the hardest for my FIL. 

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 8:55 PM
Joined: 5/11/2022
Posts: 72

You've already gotten a lot of good replies and I'd like to share my experience. 

My sister and I (and our two cats) moved back in to our parents house to help them out financially back at the tail end of 2018. We were only supposed to be here for 3 years, according to dad, as soon as mom could get a stable job and then with our support, they could handle things again. Mom couldn't keep a job, dad's job changed, covid happened and then it turned out mom had Early onset dementia.

Before we moved back in, we didn't have the best of relationships with our parents and being together 24/7 has made things challenging at times. I for one wish I didn't live with them, however I know we would not have the current system for mom's care had we not been already living together. My personal opinion is that I'd be better off if I didn't live here, to have my own place to retreat to without the interference of either parent, to be my own person.

About the dog, though, does your mom like dogs and is your dog well disciplined or forgiving? She might not understand when your dog is playing or even upset and then both could get hurt. My mom cannot understand cat body language and would have gotten seriously hurt a few times had I not been supervising her interaction with our one cat with no manners.

Also at times mom thinks the cat is hers and won't let anyone else take care of the cat and tries to feed the cat inappropriate food, like apples or chocolate! Our cats are/were indoor cats but one time mom let a cat walk right out the door because "well she asked me to," her words.

We recently had to put down our other cat, a 19 year old who was going deaf and blind. She had gotten very sickly and while with shoving medication into her, she could have lived a little longer, we just could not take care of both her and mom, it was too much. We opted for a peaceful passing and while it sucks so much, it was the best we could do in a terrible situation. That cat no longer exists in this house because it's too cruel to constantly tell mom the cat died. We can't properly grieve the cat's passing because mom gets so upset anytime she is reminded of her and it affects mom for days even though she doesn't know why she's sad. It's just so terrible. 

I'd suggest that of you can, don't move in. At least for my experiences, it won't go well. Stay close by and continue to be there for your dad, but also for your own family.

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2022 10:34 PM
Joined: 12/12/2020
Posts: 282

Don't do it. You, yourself, have reservations about that idea or else you wouldn't be asking for advice. If your mom rarely knows your father, surely she'll think your husband is complete stranger. No amount of reminding her who he is and why he should be there will stick. Also, you can't presume that she would be okay with a dog in the house. You live close enough to be a help for your folks. Keep it that way. As your mom continues to decline mentally, you'll be grateful to have your own place as a sanctuary when the craziness just becomes too emotionally and physically draining to cope with.
Posted: Monday, June 20, 2022 6:57 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 3648

Little Volcano-

I wonder if a better way to offer your dad meaningful help via respite is to swap houses once a week or so to allow him a block of time to have uninterrupted sleep and some me-time.

I suspect if you are only doing a daytime visit to help with housekeeping, errands, meals, entertain mom and such before heading home to meet your DH for dinner and tend to the dog you might have a 360 view of what is going on. A dear friend used to see her mom daily for several hours- she'd collect mom around 1:30 and they'd run errands, have dinner, watch a little TV before driving mom home around 9. She thought she had a good handle on mom's then ES dementia. But when she proactively moved mom in with her thinking she acted before she needed to, she was shocked by her mom's behavior overnight. 

I suspect, too, that should you move in with mom and attempt to get her to do the same things dad is you will lose your most-favored-caregiver status quickly and be subjected to the same wrath as your dad. 

In your shoes I would be looking for a geripsych to dial back her anxiety a bit and consider some regularly schedule respite for your dad whether that's you or a HHA.

MN Chickadee
Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 9:21 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1540

This depends a lot on family dynamics and individual circumstances. Just keep in mind that 24/7 caregiving is extremely taxing and not all marriages can weather it well. Also, I would not assume the way mom treats you will remain if you live there. In our case my mother was similarly crotchety with my dad. I lived 2 minutes away and saw her constantly. She could still show time for me, treated me like she would company. Nice and pleasant and compliant. My sister moved in with them for a while to help out and mom started to treat her like she treated dad. Just like little kids, sometimes the person with dementia (PWD) save the worst for those that are closest. But it is very good you are looking at ways to get dad respite and making care plans. No one can do this alone 24/7. If it were me, and my particular spouse and my circumstances and my PWD, I could not have moved us in. I would have found alternative ways to make it work and schedules to get everyone what they need. Taking a rotation of certain days or nights to give dad a break, taking on the task of arranging hired aides or cleaning person, etc. and getting advice from an estate attorney to financial plan for contingencies. Still maintain my own digs to have a private place to recharge and my spouse to do the same.
Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 10:06 AM
Joined: 8/1/2020
Posts: 199

I love the idea of switching houses for a week. What I would do for/with a week without caregiving! It will also give you a better view of your LO situation. May help you decide about a move. May change your vision of the future.
Posted: Monday, June 27, 2022 9:25 AM
Joined: 11/16/2018
Posts: 87

Wow! Time got away from me and I'm now just checking in on this thread. Thank you ALL soooo much for your input, especially:

- those whose LOs turned from love and light to persnickety when they moved in (I've always wondered if that might happen to me too. The disease does get snippy with me sometimes and hangs up on me).

- those who brought pets and the consequences doing so can bring

- those who mentioned living arrangements and having to rearrange what Mom is used to (Mom has taken over the largest bedroom, Dad is in the guest room, and my hubs and I would have to clear out Mom's sewing room--which she never uses anymore--and I'm sure she would be upset about that) 

- those who reinforced that it's probably just better to keep giving Dad breaks (via visits and short-term stay overs), which I do, so he can go up to his cabin to tend to it and get breaks. What I might add in is more days where I work from their house, thus lengthening my stays during the day, but not interfering with work.

All these things have convinced me that it's better for me to live separately as long as possible. This line in particular from @harshedbuzz really hit home: 

"I suspect, too, that should you move in with mom and attempt to get her to do the same things dad is you will lose your most-favored-caregiver status quickly and be subjected to the same wrath as your dad."

Yeah, I am the most favored caregiver, and that needs to be protected. I can get Mom to do so many things that Dad can't, and yes, that would be detrimental if that changed, so, again, thanks to everyone who pointed out the possibility of Mom turning on me. Obviously, if Dad should--gawd forbid--die before she does, my hubs and dog are definitely moving in (and hiring help, which Dad isn't comfortable with yet--they're both very private people and Dad wants to manage this with family only as long as possible, and I'm respecting that), but for now, I think we're safe caring from a short distance. It's only a 15-min drive (it used to be a 6 hour drive!).

I'm so glad I asked. Thanks so much to all of you for helping me make the right decision. I feel much more confident about staying put for now (and, quite honestly, relieved).

Hugs and good vibes to all of you!!!

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