Should you move in with your family member?

If you are concerned about your older family member living at home alone, you may be starting to think about other living arrangements for them.

Is it time you considered moving in?

If your situation allows it, you may also be considering moving in. Some people make this decision with their family member after talking about a range of options. Others find themselves choosing to do this because their family member refuses to move and is felt to be at risk.

Before moving in to your family member's home to provide the support they need, take time to fully consider the situation. Don't rush this important decision.

Moving in - the benefits for you and your family member

Depending on the amount of care and support you have already been providing to your family member from a distance, moving in could very well make this 'job' easier.

People who moved in to help a family member say the benefits are:

  • Less travel
  • The ability to provide more care and support
  • The ability to monitor more closely, reducing stress and worry
  • Developing a closer relationship with your family member
  • Regularly adding quality to their life - e.g. playing music
  • Adding to existing care arrangements - not making changes
  • Having your family member stay in their familiar environment, which may help to maintain their independence; and reducing some expenses through living together.
Moving in - what you may not expect

With hindsight, some people who moved in to support their family member say that they experience the following:

  • Feeling 'on duty' all the time - as if life revolves around caring
  • Losing their sense of being an independent adult
  • Losing their sense of identity - feeling defined as 'carer'
  • Feeling increased expectations - by their family member and others
  • A decreased social life and lost friendships and decreased opportunities generally - e.g. work, travel, etc.

Others who moved in talk about the all-consuming role they took on and they found that the boundaries around caring were less clear and that their sense of freedom was lost.

Weighing it up - is moving in the best option

Before you make any decisions about this, take time to consider the situation carefully. Look at the benefits for you and your family member - and what you will both be losing or needing to compromise. Remember that many older people continue to live at home alone - often with the help of family, friends and community support services.

Here's some advice:

  • Talk openly with your family member if possible about the difficulties they are facing - look for ways around these
  • Talk openly with other family members and friends - ask for their advice, help and support
  • Organise a family meeting if you think this would help
  • Consider a range of alternative living options and supports
  • If you decide to move in, make it clear from the beginning to others in the family that you expect help and support
  • Ask for their help with specific tasks
  • Set some conditions with your family member if you need to - e.g. agreeing to community services or regular respite
  • Remember that your decision is not irreversible.

Contact the Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre on 1800 242 636 for more information, support and advice about moving in.

Read the fact sheets titled, Should your family member move in with you? and Other accommodation options - supported living