Most recently I have begun to notice a trend. Families are taking their loved ones home to live with them. Economic realities are behind some of these decisions and some believe it is in the best interest of the residents. My experience has shown me that it is not always prudent to have a family member living with extended family. People underestimate what it takes to care for a loved one. It is a 24 hour a day job.

The national center for victims of crime reports – of alleged perpetrators of elder abuse, 33% were adult children, 22% were other other family members; 16% were strangers, and 11% were spouses/intimate partners (Teaster, National Center on Elder Abuse, 2006). Because of the stress of taking care of a family member, so often we see elders abused by the very people charged to take care of them. Older women (67%) are far more likely than men (32%) to suffer from abuse and slightly more than half of the alleged perpetrators of elder abuse were female (53%). (National Center on Elder Abuse Study, 2004).

Some advantages of living in an assisted living community are socialization. So often when a family chooses to keep a loved one at home, they don’t think about the isolation this arrangement will cause especially if the family member works outside the home. The elderly person is left on their own all day. Socialization is one of the only things that helps dementia.

I had a lady who brought her mom to live here at Argent Court because it had become too much for the lady to continue to take care of her. Her mom had lived with her over 10 years. The woman’s husband had recently retired and she wanted to travel with him but couldn’t because of caring for her mom. When she brought her mom here, she was overwhelmed with guilt. I explained to her that her mom would be fine and probably would blossom as a result of the interaction with other residents.  Additionally, I told her that it would change the relationship between her and her mom. She could return to being her daughter rather than her caregiver. Her mom lived here for several years and LOVED it. She had blossomed – just as I predicted.

At her funeral, the daughter came to me and said that bringing her mom here was the best decision she had made. She said the past several years had been enhanced because she returned to being her daughter and they had lots of great times together as a result. Gone was the guilt and the sense that she was somehow failing her mom by not allowing her to stay in her home.

While caring for a loved one in your home seems like a noble thing, it can change the relationship and in some cases lead to abuse.   Remember, caring for someone in your own home is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job.