As your parents get older, helping them to decide how they will live out their golden years can be a difficult decision. Of course, you want your parents to be happy, healthy, and safe, but nursing homes and care facilities not only force your parents to give up their independence but also have a spotty record in regards to safety and care. While it is always an option for your parents to come live with you in a spare bedroom, that also means that you too will have to sacrifice your independence and privacy. However, there is an option that can satisfy everyone involved: helping your parents live on their own in a tiny home.
Advantages of Taking Responsibility
While nursing homes and other assisted living facilities can be beneficial to the elderly that require constant, round the clock medical care, there have been widespread reports of abuse within them. Certainly, not all of these care facilities have this reputation, but there have been enough cases that making the decision to leave your parents at one of them can be particularly hard. Some signs that a nursing home is neglecting or outright abusing the people in their care include unexplained bruises, fear of being touched, over or under medicating, and emotional withdrawal. When you are taking care of your parents living in a tiny home, these risks effectively disappear.
Preserving your parent’s dignity, safety, and sense of independence is the least you can do for them, but it can be hard to know how to help them without taking over their lives. Your parents can end up needing help with anything from financial organization, staying active and connected, and even things as basic as regular hygiene. The key to being able to help without coming off as condescending is to let your parents take the lead, ask what they need help with before you act, and respect their space and privacy. Giving your parents the option of living in a tiny home preserves some of their autonomy and privacy and can help them to feel far more independent than if they are living in your home or a care facility.
If you and your parents decide that helping them in their living situation is the best course of action, there are a few key steps to remember when getting started. First, you need to assess your parents’ needs and identify what they’ll actually need help with so that you don’t overstep boundaries or stretch yourself too thin. Include your parents in this process and urge them to be completely honest, as it can be hard to admit you need help bathing yourself, but if that is something that they require, it can’t be overlooked.
Helping to Manage Stress and Chronic Pain
While all seniors have different needs, many live with chronic, debilitating pain. Chronic pain can often be a burden on you as well, as watching your parents suffer while you’re unable to do anything to help them can foster feelings of guilt. Tempers can flare up on both sides due to the frustration caused by chronic pain, but it is important to work together in order to manage it properly. Though both modern western medicine and homeopathic remedies can be used to curb chronic pain, there are a multitude of ways to help ease the symptoms through behavioral changes. Having your parents nearby in a tiny home can help you to immediately address their chronic pain without exposing them to prodding strangers who may not understand the severity of their pain.
Though their chronic pain might make you feel guilty that you can’t help them like you want to, keep in mind that things are much worse for them. Seniors suffering from chronic pain often see themselves as a burden on those closest to them. This can negatively affect personal relationships, causing those suffering from chronic pain to withdraw from their closest relationships and can lead to depression. For this reason, keeping your parents close to you, either by living with them in a tiny home or having them live by themselves nearby is one of the best things you can do for them in their old age.
Keeping open, honest communication with your parents is the first place you should start when helping them manage their chronic pain. Letting your parents know that you’re there for them and will listen to them can help to reduce their overall stress, which can reduce the severity of chronic pain. Helping them practice meditation, engage in breathing exercises, and go on consistent long walks can help to relieve chronic pain by boosting natural endorphins.
Optimizing the Home for Your Parents
A sense of independence is an important part of anybody’s life, and this is especially important for seniors. Even living in a small converted trailer that has been specialized for their needs can give them the sense of independence that they need. As long as you make sure that their home is equipped with all the necessary items that are uniquely required for them, you’ll make their golden years happier.
Streamlining their small home and optimizing it for their unique needs doesn’t have to be too difficult. By helping your parents downsize when moving into a smaller space, you can de-clutter their lives and help them to develop a stylish but comfortable home. With limited floor space, consider using vertical storage to maximize space, which will make the house easier to navigate if your parents have limited mobility. Make sure that everything your parents need in their day-to-day lives is easily accessible to them to give them more freedom and less dependence on you every day.
If you’re especially concerned about your parent’s safety, or even worried about them becoming lonely or depressed, there is a unique option that is available to you and your parents. ECHO Cottages are small, portable homes that can be installed right next to your own home. These small homes are designed explicitly for the elderly and can be a comfortable option for them while still keeping them close to you.