How to Live As An Adult With Your Elderly Parent

When a parent lives with adult children

As parents get older, they often become less able to take care of all of their needs, especially if one parent is left to live alone after the death of their spouse. Their grown children are often faced with the reality of role reversals: the “kids” become the parent for their mother or father.

If the parent lives close to one of their children, then that son or daughter and their family often take on the role of parenting their mom or dad. If no children live nearby, then the parent may move to be close to family. As the parent grows even older and more dependant on others to take care of them, they face the option of moving into either an assisted-living facility or into their son or daughter’s home.

Asking the Question, “Should Mom (or Dad) live with us?”As our family faced this situation after my dad died, my first reaction was, “does Mom really need to move in with us?” But as we prayed about this, God put on my heart some verses from 1 Timothy. Paul advises us, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” (1 Timothy 5:4)

The Apostle Paul also warns us that, “if anyone does not provide for his relative and especially for his immediate family he has denied the faith and is worse than and unbeliever”. (1 Timothy 5:8)

During this transition time and since then, we faced many questions about how to handle Mom’s need and yet still pursue our own family’s dreams and goals. Here are some of the common questions and answers:

“How do you help them with their finances?”

This question was the first one that came up after my Dad died. With less income, how long could my Mom afford to live in her own place? And could she afford to take care of all her medical and transportation costs? My Mom knew how to manage most of her finances, but for some families, financial issues are a big problem. Even my Mom needs someone with whom she can discuss major financial decisions, such as the purchase of a new car, hearing aid, or computer. Sometimes she needs us to help her clarify billing issues with a doctor’s office or the hospital. For her taxes, she hires a professional to help her, but your parent may request help in this area.

Three things to determine regarding your parents financial management:

  1. How independent they want to be
  2. How capable they are of handling finances
  3. How pure are your motives when trying to help them with their finances

God entrusted us with the care of our parents as they get older, much like he entrusted the elders of the church with the care of the people. Peter instructs us to be “shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve” (1 Peter 5:2)

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