Living with an elderly person has benefits and drawbacks for everyone involved. However, we must also respect older people’s desire to be self-sufficient and independent, while also providing assistance where it is required. To make it work, both parties must be patient and understand their respective living situations. Finally, because everyone is different, every situation will be unique, and everyone will face unique challenges. However, if both parties are willing to communicate with one another, the living situation will be happy and mutually beneficial.
Part 1 Creating a Positive and Respectful Living Environment
1. Make eye contact with your elderly roommate. The most important aspect of any relationship is communication. You won’t be aware of each other’s problems and concerns if you don’t communicate. As a result, you won’t be able to form a relationship that values both of your unique characteristics.
2. Set boundaries. Both parties must define boundaries and reach a mutual understanding of each other’s space, independence, and autonomy. You must understand what your elderly relative is comfortable with in terms of being assisted or being subtly monitored to ensure their well-being.
Discuss their expectations for your relationship with them. What do they expect you to do in terms of help and interaction?
Discuss the use of common areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, or living room.
Agree on the conditions under which family or friends will visit.
Discuss how you will use each other’s personal belongings, such as dishes, appliances, and even food.
3. Determine your financial situation. Determine who will pay for what ahead of time. Having your finances decided and agreed upon ahead of time could save you a headache or even legal fees later on. Records will make a big difference here, so if you know who pays for what and have it written down from the start, you’ll be ahead of the game. Consider the following as well:
Include family members in money discussions. If you’re going to live with an elderly family member, make sure to communicate with your other relatives about your financial arrangements. Be receptive to their suggestions, especially if they will be contributing to the cost. This will help you avoid future problems and resentment.
Consider the price. Be aware of the costs if you will be paying for the care of an elderly relative. According to one recent study, caregivers spend about $5,500 per year caring for elderly relatives. According to another study, caregivers spend nearly $15,000 per year caring for their elderly relative.
4. Respect the person as an individual. Avoid treating the person as if he or she were a child. Older people have lived much more deeply than we often realise, and they have had many more life experiences. Inquire about your elderly loved one’s life, what they think, and what they care about.
5. Allow the individual privacy. When possible, they should have as much privacy and personal space as possible. Don’t turn yourself into a caregiver or a nurse without a need or an invitation, and don’t intrude on their personal space. If you are concerned about your elderly roommate, always communicate first.
6. Assist the elderly person’s autonomy. Allow him or her to make his or her own decisions and do not substitute your own for theirs. Every adult has the ability to make some, if not all, of his or her own decisions; therefore, assist the person in doing and choosing as much as possible for himself or herself. Don’t assume that just because someone is old, they can’t manage their own affairs, even if you disagree with them.
7. Respect their knowledge and life experiences. You’re the newcomer with less experience. Your elderly roommate most likely has wisdom and experience far exceeding your own. Talk to them and seek their advice on issues that concern both of you.
Part 2 Organizing Your Home and Making it Accessible and Safe
1. Ascertain that the house is easily accessible. Depending on the physical condition of the elderly person, you will need to consider a number of factors in order to make your home accessible.
Install mobility aids if the individual requires them. Consider installing grab bars at the toilet and in the bath tub. Consider a shower seat as well. Consider a wheelchair ramp or an electric wheelchair lift as well.
Safeguard the individual from the potential hazards of stairs. Consider this if the elderly person requires access to areas of the home that are not on the main level.
Install handicap-accessible features in your home. Is the bathroom large enough to accommodate a wheelchair or walker if needed? A wheelchair requires a doorway that is at least 32 inches wide and preferably 36 inches wide.
2. Maintain an orderly and clutter-free environment in your home. Your home should be organised and clutter-free, especially if the person has limited mobility, uses a walker, wheelchair, or other mobility aid, or has poor eyesight. After all, you want your elderly roommate to be able to move around freely without tripping or collapsing.
If your elderly housemate is suffering from hoarding, you should talk to them about it and encourage them to seek help.
3. Check that the house has an HVAC system, a phone, and even an emergency panic system. Heating, ventilation, and a cooling system are critical for older people who may have chronic conditions or are more susceptible to the elements. In addition, if there is an accident, you should have a phone and possibly a panic system so that your roommate can call for help or contact emergency response workers.
Part 3 Watching out for the Elderly Person’s Welfare
1. Recognize their abilities and limitations. As people age, their problems and abilities change, and you must quickly determine what kind of abilities and/or assistance they will require. There are several factors to consider if they have diminished abilities and physical or mental limitations:
What is the person’s physical and mental condition, as well as any chronic illnesses? If this is the case, you must consider and plan for them.
Is the individual of sound mind? If your elderly roommate has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you must seriously consider what you will do to keep that person safe. For more information, go to the Alzheimer’s Association website at http://www.alz.org/alzheimers disease what is alzheimers.asp.
Is the person physically capable of caring for themselves? If not, make sure the elderly person is always looked after by someone. If you work outside the home, you may need to hire some in-home caregivers to care for the elderly.
2. Consider how much help you and your family can provide. You must determine what assistance you can provide and how much time you can devote to possibly assisting an elderly person with whom you live. If you are required to provide a lot of assistance, this may cause unexpected stress in your life.
Be realistic about the level of assistance your elderly roommate may require. This could grow over time.
Know your limits and your comfort level when it comes to assisting the person with basic tasks such as dressing, bathing, and going to the bathroom.
Consider your schedule. If you have a full-time job and children, this is something to think about.
3. If they are unable to keep records, keep them for them. If the person is not a family member, you should have contact information for their family. If the individual is okay with it, you should also have their emergency medical information and know where their important documents are in case of an emergency. In this manner, you will have all of the information you require in the event of an emergency.
4. Learn about the medications they’re taking. If the person requires assistance, become acquainted with the medications they use in case of an accident or medical emergency. Be aware of drug interaction warnings, as well as instructions for taking medication that requires fasting or taking with food.
5. Assist the individual in keeping their basic grooming presentable. Frequently, elderly people are unable to trim their finger and toe nails, comb or brush their hair, or put on and tie their shoes. This is critical in order to maintain one’s confidence and readiness to interact with others. If you want, you can assist them if they are in trouble, but only if they consent.
6. Keep an eye out for scammers and fraudsters. Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of and prey on the elderly, such as con artists, salespeople, and people claiming to represent religious organisations. Such people will take advantage of older people’s good nature or lack of proper information to solicit money from them.
This could be avoided by turning these people away at the door or simply asking your elderly roommate about their daily interactions over dinner. This will not only protect your elderly roommate from financial ruin, but it will also save you time dealing with the consequences.
7. Understand their dietary requirements, including their sugar and salt intake. Older people are frequently on restricted diets and are tempted in the same way that the rest of us are. If your elderly roommate has memory issues, they may even forget about their own dietary requirements. But remember, don’t nag or be overly aggressive about it. Respect their choices while keeping an eye on their well-being.
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