This is a tougher blog for me to write. I could go on and on about so many things on this subject, but, this is NOT my diary! It's a blog to give practical tips everyone can use, not clear my emotional baggage. However, I do need to preface it with saying that this is a big stage in your families' lives. It is an emotional time, no matter what the circumstances. Okay now let's get to it. If you are facing this, I have a few things that may help you along the way.
Honor the situation - When you are facing the prospect of moving a parent (or parents) into your home, it can be an extremely anxious time. You may (possibly) have flashbacks of when you were young and couldn't wait to get out of your parent's house and fears of things not going well. This is to be expected. However, all the worry and "what ifs" won't make any changes in the situation. Instead think of it as an honor when you can offer a hand to the hands that raised you. If you keep that in mind, then you can keep moving forward and face each situation when it comes.
Honor your parents - When you are preparing a space for your folks, think of the things that they like. The decor or style that make them feel at home. When my mother and my family moved in together, I wanted her to feel like she was "home" as much as possible. I used colors I knew she liked and tried to set up her space in a way she would be comfortable. It is difficult for them to have their whole house moved into a few little rooms. The more you can keep that feeling that they had before, the better it will be for them--and for you. So you don't like a certain color your mother loves...If she is happy, you will be happy!
Honor your boundaries - Having space for your own family and for your parents is important. You ALL need to feel that you are in your OWN home, not like you are all visiting during the holidays. Set up what you need those boundaries to be and encourage your parents to do the same and go from there. The boundaries may need to change as time goes on. I wanted my mom to be able to have her own space where she could have peace and quiet so she had a little area in her room where she could have morning coffee on her own if she wanted and doors she could close everyone out! As time went on, she enjoyed being around the family more and didn't want to shut us all out. But, all of us knowing that we could have a private space if we needed it, helped a lot. It was a big adjustment for her go from living alone to living with a family of 6 and a dog!
Honor your differences - Like I said before, I tried to make her space what she liked, but I wanted my space my way, too! I learned to not hate her favorite color and understand why she wanted things a certain way. She didn't try to control my life either and tell me what all she expected out of me. We didn't always see eye to eye, but that was ok. We didn't hold grudges. She had her TV shows she loved and she could watch Judge Judy every day and it didn't bother me! I could go watch something else if I wanted, but sometimes I sat with her and we cheered Judy on together. We didn't criticize what the other liked or didn't like. We didn't belittle each others different tastes or styles. It was her home. It was my home. So it was all OK.
Honor your home - When a parent moves in, if they are YOUR parent, you may feel it is your responsibility to be all things to them and supply all that they need. But, you have yourself and maybe a family that has needs and wants that shouldn't be pushed aside either. Hold your family in a place of honor too. Making your home comfortable for everyone is just as important to your children or spouse or YOURSELF as it is to your parents. If it is your spouse's parent(s), you need to respect the time your spouse needs to have with their parents and be there to pick up the slack for your household (and kids if you have them) as well. You and your family unit need to be respected no matter what angle you see this situation from. Sometimes, a parent moving in isn't something you expected to happen--especially if a parent is ill. It can be extremely stressful for everyone involved when your life takes a turn you don't expect. If you plan to honor your family, you not only will help keep your own sanity, but, you will be able to help everyone to do so too.
Honor the time - When my mother and I lived together, she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She had a bad spell in the hospital, but then went back to living at her home alone for the next six months. When she came down with a cold again, she decided she didn't want to be on her own anymore and my husband, my mom and I all decided we were going to find a place together. It was terrifying for me. I mean, I had 4 kids and a dog, my life stressed me out--I worried it woudl be worse for her! I was very close to my mother, but, we usually could last about a month together before we decided we needed a break from each other! I couldn't imagine her living with me, for the rest of her journey on this earth. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to be happy. And all the things I said about not worrying, well I didn't follow my own advice back then! At the time the whole journey started, I had no idea that the it would only last 5 years--and looking back now, I wouldn't change any of it. It was one of the hardest and most wonderful times in my life. All of us learned so much in our time with her. I wish I hadn't spent so much time worrying and just spent the time enjoying her. I still miss her every day.
A room's purpose can be changed, you can add or subtract furniture and walls can always be painted later. Time is something we can't change or get back. Remember that if your rec room in your basement suddenly becomes an apartment for you parents!