Ask Kari: Should my lonely elderly mother move in with my family?

Dear Kari,

My 69 year-old mother is recently widowed and lives alone in her home. She has been retired for the past five years and appears to be lonely every time I see her, which is often. I am worried that she needs more social activity and family time. I am considering that maybe she should move in with my family and me (my husband and our four children). My husband says that he will only agree to this, if his parents can also live with us at a later date if and when they start to struggle. Having all those people under one roof would be crazy and I am not up to it. I just want to have my mom near me so I can take care of her. What do you recommend I do?

--Concerned Daughter

Dear Concerned Daughter,

I can tell by your letter that you are closely bonded to your mother and want her to be happy and well. You did not mention her health status, so I will assume that she has no limitations that would keep her from socializing with others. First, I would ask your mother is she is interested in moving from her home, and would she want to live with you and your family (that would be seven people in one home, quite a change from her current living situation). If she is lonely and no longer wants to be in a home by herself, offering her the option of living with you is potentially a good one. But, I recommend that you discuss the dynamics of this change further with all involved. Or, if she prefers to remain living on her own, maybe invite her to additional activities with your children or suggest that she volunteer in the community (which is a great way to do good work as you interact with others). Regarding your husband’s counter offer, talk with him and gauge why he is making this request (e.g. does he want to care for his parents at the same level you do for your mom, or is he concerned that having your mom move in could throw off your family dynamics). Good luck, it sounds like your family is filled with love


As published in the May 2013 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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