FAQs #6

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Q6. How do I tell my father that he can't live alone but can't live with me either?

A6. Bonnie Shetler:
Do they want to continue to live in their home? Are you certain they cannot? If they are of sound mind, I am not sure you can effectively tell them they must move. You can certainly make observations and suggest alternatives, but telling a parent that they must give up something they wish to keep is trekking into dangerous territory. It is very helpful for children to be open and specific with their concerns for a parent's safety and to be willing to help a parent investigate other housing alternatives, but in the end the parent, assuming he or she is mentally competent, must decide when it is time to move out of their home.

I know very few parents who really want to move in with their children. Those who do either have unrealistic expectations of what that arrangement would entail, or they have very open, honest, loving communication with children who genuinely want to give it a try. In the latter case, there is no problem — they try it and if the time comes to change the arrangement they all talk about it openly and make the change. In the former case, such an arrangement could create serious and unforgettable misunderstandings and disappointments.

If you are worried about your parent's safety I suggest you start by talking with him or her about your specific concerns. You might prepare yourself for this discussion by looking at what local housing alternatives might be available so that you could give your parent something concrete to think about. Take a look at our web page on housing and note that there may be reasonable options that would not require them to leave their home.

If moving in with you is not an option, do not mention it. If your parent suggests it as an option, be honest. Above all, be prepared to listen and to give them time to think about it.

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Donna Forrest
Donna Forrest
Life Changes Care Management
PO Box 272580
Fort Collins, CO 80527

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