Everyone has different family structures and support. In deciding your own options, take a look at your own family structure, culture, and the expectations you and family members might have. You may have already made alternate plans, preferring to keep family as little involved as possible. Perhaps you and your family want to work out a system where caregiving by family is your primary support for staying in the home. Or it could be that work, health issues or location of your family may not make this feasible. Your family could live far away and prefer that you live with them or move close instead, which would mean giving up a local support system.

While this conversation may not be easy, it’s better to discuss these issues earlier than to wait for an emergency when options may be more limited. An independent opinion, such as a home assessment by a geriatric case manager or consulting with other professionals, can be helpful in defusing family tensions too. You have the final decision as to where you want to live, but input from family members is also helpful. Are they worried about your safety or a health problem such as Alzheimer’s that will eventually require heavy care? Listening to concerns and keeping communication open is key.

Even if you have strong family support, be open to the idea of having other help too. Many people have an initial feeling of “not wanting strangers in the house.” But caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially if it is primarily on one person such as a spouse. Your relationships will be healthier if you are open to the idea of getting help from more than one source.

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