How to Adjust to Living With Elderly Parents

Embrace the journey of living with elderly parents. We provide insights for a harmonious family dynamic.

Retirement + Aging in Place
October 9, 2023
How to Adjust to Living With Elderly Parents

Updated Jan 31, 2024

There are significant benefits to living with an aging parent. As a family caregiver, you can enjoy and work on deepening your relationship during your time together. You can learn (and craft) family traditions, grow through acts of service, and clarify your own goals and wishes for retirement and end-of-life planning. As your roles and environment change, you’ll find moments of joy in your caregiving and grow in your flexibility. And if you have children, living with your senior parent gives them an opportunity to get to know their grandparent even better, forging precious memories and learning family stories they’ll one day retell to their own grandchildren.

Alongside the many benefits, adjusting to living with aging parents can be a challenge for some. Whether you’re preparing to live with senior parents or already do, we’re here to offer ideas on creating a happy, healthy home situation for all of you. Let’s dive into how you can adjust to living with elderly parents.

Emotional Considerations

Seniors and caregivers can both face emotional challenges when entering into a co-living arrangement –– and it’s important that you approach this change with empathy. Be mindful that your parents may be dealing with: 

  • Grief over the loss of their home and independence
  • Resentment or hurt pride at the need to accept help
  • Physical discomfort adjusting to new schedules, sounds, surfaces, etc.
  • Fear or anger at the evidence of entering a stage closer to the end of life

On the other hand, you and the family of your adulthood may feel: 

  • Frustration at the lack of privacy, quiet, or solitude you previously enjoyed
  • Worry about the financial, time, and energy costs that may yet increase
  • Annoyance at visual or spatial changes to your home made to benefit others
  • An unexpected return to feeling like a younger version of yourself being around your parents this much

During this time, to preserve the relationship and create a comfortable environment for all parties involved, each of you will benefit from proactively working on nurturing your emotional health. Remember: 

  • Self-care is a medical need; it’s not a luxury you can afford to skip
  • Change is the only constant; embrace this evolution rather than resisting it 
  • Your feelings are valid, but don’t let them cloud your judgment –– address each of these feelings appropriately

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Establishing Boundaries and Communication

Boundaries and communication go hand in hand. Consider them the relationship goals of living with an elderly parent (or, really, anyone). To create healthy boundaries, you’ll need to establish strong communication habits with your parents. Although you have your own unique communication and interpersonal style and habits, you may want to consider these tips for communicating kindly and clearly: 

  • The first draft – Consider approaching important conversations and goals by first working through ideas, thoughts, or emotions on your own. This allows you to express yourself without holding back, work through various options, then determine the most effective way to approach a situation. 
  • The setting – Driving in rush hour traffic, standing in a garage, and waiting in a hospital lobby are all poor settings for negotiations and important conversations. Consider holding a family meeting to express your feelings with an older parent and achieve a mutually beneficial resolution in a neutral environment. Schedule a time to talk, and then sit together comfortably in a private and quiet setting. To create space, consider turning cell phones off for the duration of the conversation and make sure no one has to head out for an appointment in less than an hour.
  • The hidden language – If you find yourself irked by a habit or choice made by your new roommate(s), start by figuring out why the person is doing the thing that’s making you angry. Dave, for example, can’t help but feel slighted when his father sits at the head of the table. He fumes, thinking it’s a passive-aggressive statement. In reality, on his dad’s part, it’s just a habit from taking that seat for years in his old house (plus, it places his chilly toes closer to a heating vent). By understanding your feelings and addressing them directly, you’re more likely to find a solution or an explanation that resolves those feelings rather than basing your emotions on an assumption.  
  • The timing – Time is the most valuable asset, and this fact is never more clear than when aging parents can no longer live independently. Rather than waiting until your older parent is ready to move in, establish boundaries ahead of time so there’s one less adjustment to adapt to –– for both you and your parent. 

Develop Support Networks

Living together provides support and connectedness, but it’s just the start.Both you and your parents need meaningful contact outside of the family. 

For yourself, be sure to plan time with friends and find a shoulder to cry on or an empathetic ear when you need it. You might also consider seeking a professional to provide caregiver support to help you balance stress, strengthen coping skills, maintain boundaries, and prevent caregiver burnout.

Developing a robust support network for older parents is equally important but can be an even greater challenge. If your parents are new to the neighborhood or have become more housebound in recent years, look into: 

  • Your Area Agencies on Aging, organizations that address the needs of older adults and help them live more independently1
  • A local senior living community or retirement community 
  • Veterans’ groups and centers
  • Hobby- and activity-based meetups and clubs 
  • Interesting lessons or lectures through community education or libraries
  • Places of worship

Other ways to help your parents get engaged in the community and feel supported include: 

  • Helping them navigate public or senior-specific transportation
  • Ensuring they have social time without you present 
  • Researching support groups or other mental health resources that could benefit them
  • Encouraging visits with family members and friends at outside locations

Practical Considerations

Boundaries also come into play at the physical level. However, this doesn’t mean using labels and establishing a “this is mine, that’s yours” approach as you might with a college dormmate. Instead, there are useful, respectful methods for establishing private and shared spaces ahead of your elderly parents moving in –– without condescending or shaming. 


  • Adding soundproofing to limit noise traveling
  • Creating specific “nooks” if there isn’t space for setting aside whole rooms
  • Installing more localized temperature control options
  • Adding practical features, such as a mini-fridge, if you don’t have a whole in-law suite
  • Building an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on your lot or attached to your home

You can also look into home modifications, which include renovations and adaptive products you can invest in to address mobility, strength, and flexibility limitations, to improve home safety for seniors. Popular options include: 

  • Support bars for shower and toilet areas
  • Chair lifts and ramps for step-free options
  • Lift chairs
  • Comfort-height toilets
  • Bed risers and rails

The national average to outfit a home for aging in place is $9,500, but in reality, you could spend anywhere from $100 to $100,000.2

If you’re on a budget, look for free items on Facebook Marketplace, the Nextdoor app, or other similar platforms, and get your wish list out across friends and social networks. Community members are often pleased to share useful products that their loved ones no longer need so you can provide effective home health care for your aging parents. 

Whatever you opt for, it’s wise to start early, establish realistic budgets, and ask for help. 

Balancing Caregiving and Personal Life

Being a caregiver is not something to take lightly. Think about typical flight attendant instructions –– they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs. Essentially, this is the type of mindset you need to have when taking care of senior parents, especially in a co-living arrangement. 

A high percentage of caregivers suffer from physical and mental strains that often lead to serious health conditions. Studies show that: 

  • Caregivers’ stress hormone levels are 23 percent higher and antibody responses are 15 percent lower than average3
  • Women who spend 9+ hours per week as a family caregiver double their risk of heart disease4 
  • Between the ages of 66 and 96, caregiving increases mortality rates by 63 percent5
  • 40–70 percent of caregivers exhibit depression symptoms, 25–50 percent of whom meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression6

Caregiving can be a strain on the body, a welcome mat to stress and worry, and a role that comes with an innate lack of security. However, you still have control over many of your choices. One of the reasons for such deleterious effects on caregivers’ health is that caregivers often skip their own doctors’ appointments and feel guilty about taking time for personal care.

To avoid caregiver burnout and the fallout that can accompany it, try to schedule and prioritize time to: 

  • Attend to your medical needs, with an emphasis on preventive care
  • Go outside and get fresh air
  • Socialize with friends and other family members
  • Reduce your stress with yoga, meditation, baths, or whatever else works for you
  • Connect with caregivers’ support resources, like a Family Caregiver Alliance

Turning Two Households Into One? Truehold Can Help 

Welcoming your parents to your home –– or moving in with them –– can bring tremendous joy. It provides the opportunity to have more time with your loved one and strengthen your relationship. And being a caregiver gives you an opportunity to express your deep appreciation by providing support when they need you most. But it can also come with a significant amount of stress, a seemingly endless to-do list, and additional financial costs of caring for elderly parents

Fortunately, Truehold's sale-leaseback can help. Instead of cleaning, repairing, and staging a home for a traditional sale –– and rushing to meet buyers’ and agents’ timelines –– you can quickly close on a sale that allows your family to remain in the home as a renter for however long is needed. 

This means you can concentrate on sorting and downsizing belongings, making the changes needed to facilitate your parents’ safety, and moving on your own timeline. In the meantime, Truehold will handle essential repairs and maintenance, as well as property tax and insurance, leaving you to focus on your family’s needs instead of prepping for a traditional sale. 

Ready to find out more? Contact us today, and a Truehold Advisor will reach out to review our process and see if Truehold's Sale-Leaseback is a good fit for you and your family.


  1. Eldercare Locator. The Aging Network.
  2. Fixr. How much does it cost a remodel to adapt a home for aging in place?
  3. PubMed, National Library of Medicine. Is caregiving hazardous to one's physical health? A meta-analysis.
  4. The Harvard Gazette. Women caring for ill spouses may be at increased risk of heart disease: Burden and stress of caregiving may double risk.
  5. PubMed, National Library of Medicine. Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: the Caregiver Health Effects Study.
  6. Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiver Health.
Róisín Goebelbecker headshot
Written by
Róisín Goebelbecker
Brand Lead at Truehold
Róisín Goebelbecker leverages her background in social impact storytelling, community engagement, and social services to elevate residents’ stories and advocate for the dignity and agency of older adults.
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Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

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