The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double over the next 40 years. This change in American demographics is causing family dynamics to shift quickly. We are suddenly becoming the caretakers of our parents and trying to find the best living situation for them.
When looking at their options, people are starting to turn towards the new trend of having granny pods or in-law apartments instead of going with the traditional care and senior home route. This decision allows aging adults to maintain independence, stay close to family and have an overall better quality of life.
However, this shift in living situations can come with its own set of challenges. When you were growing up your parents established the rules, routines and responsibilities. However, problems can arise when parents and children end up on equal footing later in life.
Granny pods are tiny guest homes on or near a family’s property and are designed with special accommodations for elderly occupants. These special features can include everything from wheelchair accessibility and safety technology to medical features and rails to prevent falls.
Granny pods and in-law apartments are beneficial for creating boundaries when your parents live with you because they have their own space detached from the main house. This small bit of separation can help both parties stay independent and maintain a healthy relationship.
At the same time, parents are close enough to spend time with loved ones which can help ward off loneliness, improve overall health and help maintain companionship.
Before investing in a granny pod or in-law apartment, it’s important to make sure it’s cost-effective and legal in your state.
Setting boundaries with aging parents can feel uncomfortable, but it’s essential to have these conversations to maintain a healthy relationship. Without these discussions, your parents might believe they have the same control over your life as they did when you were growing up. This can lead you to feel like they’re becoming overbearing and interfering with your personal life.
Creating these barriers can lead to less anxiety, decreased resentment and an increase in self-esteem. The end goal is to leave the conversation having both parties feeling respected and content with the outcome.
Healthy boundaries involve mutual respect for one another’s time, beliefs, space and experiences.
Examples of poor boundaries with parents:
Establishing healthy boundaries involves identifying your needs, expressing those wants clearly and creating rules around how you want to be treated. Consistency is key to establishing good limitations with your parents.
You’ve realized that your standards are being ignored, but you’re now wondering how to address your parents on these issues without causing an argument. Don’t worry: We’ve got you covered with all of the steps to set boundaries calmly and effectively.
Start by identifying what behavior you want to change. Next, explore why this behavior is bothering you and how it should be altered.
Understanding what is causing negativity in your relationship and having measurable steps to fix the problem will help you feel more confident and calm going into the conversation.
Be clear and concise when stating what it is that you want to change. Tell your parents exactly what you need from them and give actionable ways to improve the situation without apologizing.
Before confronting a parent about the boundaries you want to discuss, it might be best to have a mediator help guide this conversation. It is important to choose the person who will provide the information in the most level-headed way.
Focus on who the discussion will be best received by. If you are dealing with a partner’s parents, it might be best to let them be the mediator.
Be proactive in setting up a schedule with your senior parents. Setting up a routine can be extremely helpful when trying to set boundaries because everyone knows what to expect throughout the day.
A schedule will work out best if you are meticulous and include every detail of your day. Overcommunicating your schedule can help you avoid having your parents walk in during meetings throughout the day or intruding on you when you need alone time.
Setting aside personal time to go on a walk, enjoy a hobby or simply relax will allow you to be more available to those around you after taking time for yourself.
Creating dedicated areas that are off-limits at certain hours of the day can be a great solution in setting boundaries with live-in parents.
Combining this tactic with creating a schedule is a fantastic asset especially if you work from home. An example of this would be having the office reserved from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on workdays.
Going into a conversation angry can lead to both parties not respecting each other’s boundaries. If you go into the conversation in a defensive or argumentative manner, they might think you didn’t mean it because you were emotional at the time.
Try to keep the tone of the conversation positive and upbeat. Don’t make it sound like you are punishing them. Instead, maintain that this will only improve your relationship.
Make your boundaries as specific as possible. A detail-oriented approach will help reduce the chance of misunderstanding the new rules.
For example, instead of vaguely telling your parents not to drop by all the time without asking, take a more specific approach. Instead, explain that they can now visit from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and they need to call before they arrive.
When you start the conversation on boundaries with your live-in parents, be assertive when asking for what you need. At the same time, remember to maintain compassion throughout the interaction.
Being assertive looks like maintaining eye contact, monitoring their tone of voice, being an active listener and being direct.
Including compassion in the conversation means having sympathy for your parents and understanding the life experiences that might influence them to display a particular behavior. Coming from a kind and loving place can help you stay grounded during the conversation instead of coming off as defensive.
If you are a people pleaser, then saying no might feel like the most challenging thing on the planet. However, it's important to get used to it when your parents move in with you, or else you might be catering to their every need, which can start to become all-consuming.
Politely saying no to your parents when you don’t want to do something is the best way to prevent building up resentment over time. Leading the conversation with kindness will help them understand when you can’t satisfy all of their needs.
Being consistent about boundaries will help make it clear that you're serious about the rules you've set. Every time a boundary is broken, you need to reiterate your boundaries.
Staying committed to your boundaries could mean refusing to continue a conversation about a topic you have deemed off-limits, leaving the house or even putting down the phone.
If you stay committed to your boundaries, even resistant parents will eventually realize you are holding firm to your decisions and will settle down.
Creating boundaries with your aging parents will enhance your relationship and create a calm and happy home environment. To find the best senior-friendly apartments use the Apartment Guide’s finder tool.