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Where Do I Put My Toothbrush? Things to Consider When Moving In With An Elderly Relative

Questions and considerations when stepping into the realm of caring for an elderly parent. What tips can you offer to find a happy balance?

What do you do if you move in with an elderly relative and you want to keep them happy while you care for them? Are they active? Have they lost a loved one? 

These are just a few of the questions I had to answer when we recently moved in with my 94-year-old father-in-law. I have got to say to start out with, he is totally easy to get along with so I do not have a major problem that way. And he still goes to work every day (yes he is 94) so we do not usually get in each other's way. But, even with the most congenial person, moving their things to make room for your own can be an exercise in tact. 

The smallest things can upset the balance in an older person's routine. We are still trying to integrate our dishes with his. There is so much I cannot remove from the cupboards because it has been there for over 50 years or at least since my mother-in-law was alive over eight years ago. The trick is a combination of watching to see the places he uses most and making sure I disturb those portions of shelves as little as possible. In addition I place my things in with his and gradually remove items I know he is not using. 

But to my original dilemma -- where to put my toothbrush -- we have found that clearing out a small space by first removing items either expired or over ten years old from bathroom cupboards has helped. If your relative is a neat freak, you may not have this luxury. In that case, it is best to consult the relative on where there might be space for your toiletries. Most of the time, if you are moving in to keep an eye on their health, they should be willing to allow you some space. If they are in the early stages of dementia or alzheimer's you will probably want to consult their physician or an expert in the field as to how to handle this.

Do you have some tips? I am open for new ideas. Believe me, I need all the help I can get!

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Danimal August 25, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I'm in the same boat.... looking forward to hearing suggestions
David T. August 28, 2012 at 09:13 AM
Elder care.....takes great patience and understanding. Every situation is different and special. Your loved ones mental health status, medical and ambulatory needs all effect how you interact with the person you are helping to care for. One thing I can say is a regular routine is a good thing. The more activities the better. Most people, not only the elderly are used to finding the same things in the same place. I would do the best to always accommodate this. Its simple......just ask them. You will be surprised at their answers. They will do some things that frustrate you and you will get irritated but always try and find a positive way to communicate these things. I could say so much but I really don't know where to start. I have cared for both of my elderly parents. Both injured and sick at the same time in and out of care facilities. Home nursing care etc etc. There are many little things out there that can help make caring for your loved ones less stressful.

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