As the baby boomer generation ages, more a more adults are inviting their elderly parents into their homes. This is being done instead of placing them in assisted living or nursing homes. While it is certainly commendable to take care of your aging relatives, all ramifications must be considered. If there are still children living in the home, the effect of the elderly grandparent living there must be taken into account.
The Beginning: Bringing the Aging Grandparent Home
Bringing the aging grandparent into the home to begin with can cause problems with the children. There is the chance that one child has to give up their bedroom to the grandparent. House rules may also change, or at least, there is another adult who is in charge of the children. The balance of power in the house can shift.
Also, the established roles between the children and the aging grandparent can change. While the child may love their grandparent who feeds them cookies and gives them quarters when they go to visit, the day to day reality of the aging person may not be as pleasant.
When the Grandparent’s Health Deteriorates
Even if the transition to having another adult in the house goes smoothly, things will get more stressful when the aging grandparent’s health begins to deteriorate. As he or she becomes more and more dependent on the child’s parents for care, the child’s resentment of the aging grandparent may grow. Also, the parents’ stress level will elevate, making happy family relations more difficult.
During this stage, the child may be witness to unpleasant things such as incontinence and lack of bowel control, lack of mental clarity, and other physical reactions to the ravages of age. This may result in the child not being able to invite friends or classmates over.
When the Aging Grandparent Passes Away
When the aging grandparent passes away, the child may get a more personal glimpse of death than they are prepared for. Many children first experience the death of a long distant aunt or even a pet. Actually seeing a grandparent die in your house, or waking up and finding them dead, can be much more traumatic. The child may also feel guilt at being relieved that the grandparent is gone.
While the decision to bring an aging grandparent into the home when they can no longer care for themselves is a selfless act, it is important to understand the ramifications. Parents must understand how the decision will affect their children still living at home. Often, severe accommodations must be made for the grandparent who is moving in, and children may grow to resent them.
Also, the day to day struggles and health issues of the grandparent may cause fear or discomfort. The eventual death of the aging grandparent may cause additional troubles. It is important for the parents to understand what it is like to grow up with an aging grandparent in the home.