The scariest thing about getting older is the way it can rob us of our independence. The things we used to be able to take care of on our own can become almost impossible. That includes everything from driving to the grocery store to getting up in the morning and taking a shower. If you’re watching a relative go through something like this, you probably want to help. That’s a great impulse. You may even talk to your family members and decide that you have enough room in your house to invite your relative to live with you. Surely he or she be grateful, and the problem will be solved, right? It might be, but you need to be prepared for obstacles.
When they won’t go
You probably imagine your relative responding to your invitation with “That sounds lovely! Can you help me pack?” Some relatives will respond with gratitude and enthusiasm. Some will be more reluctant, although they’ll agree to it anyway. However, there are plenty of people who will just refuse to leave their home. They’ll say that they’ve lived exactly where they are for decades now, and it’s been working fine, so they’re not going to change a thing.
This should go without saying, but don’t make threats. Don’t say, “Come with me now, or we’re going to put you in a nursing home.” That’s probably not going to be effective, and it’s just not a very nice way to treat someone you love. Feel free to be frustrated, but try not to take it out on your relative. Why would he or she want to go live with someone who yells at others? You can try and join forces with other family members to explain the benefits of your relative moving in with you. You can express worry that your relative will fall down one morning and not be discovered for hours. But at the end of the day, your relative is still considered to be an adult capable of making autonomous decisions. There are very good reasons for that, even if it may temporarily make life harder for your family.
When they will go
If your relative readily agrees that it’s time to live somewhere else, that’s great, but you probably won’t be able to make the move that very same day. Give yourself a few days to get your house ready for a new member. You should also read up on any special medical needs your relative might have. For instance, if he or she relies on a cpap machine, you’ll want to know how to keep it clean and well-maintained. If your relative is diabetic, make sure you know how to help with blood sugar testing.
A few weeks down the line, once your relative is settled in nicely and the household has established a routine, it will probably be time to figure out how to sell your relative’s now-vacant house. Ask around and find a good real estate agent in your area (if you’re near Cincinnati, SW Ohio Real Estate is a good starting point). If your relative owns the house, you’ll need him or her to agree to sell first, so don’t skip that very important step. But gently make the reminder that an unoccupied house is a great target for vandals and thieves. It’s better for someone to use it rather than for it to just sit there. If your relative is resistant, that’s understandable. See if you can find a friend or another relative willing to rent the house for a while instead of selling it. Whenever possible, it’s always better to work with, rather than against, your loved one.