Wheelchair Safety and Your Sanity: Adjusting You and Your Small Children to a Live-In Grandparent

Ken Stanfield is a passionate blogger who spends his time researching and writing about health care, geriatric healthcare needs, and humanitarianism. He writes for the medical walkers supplier justwalkers.com

The day has come for you to tell the kids that Grandma or Grandpa is coming for an extended visitin fact, they’re staying indefinitely. Having an aging parent move in with you and your family, especially amidst the chaos of small children, can be a major adjustment for everyone as the household dynamics shift to accommodate another person in your home. Facing such a change and all the stresses it brings can seem like an overwhelming challenge, but there are things you can do to help make the adjustment smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

Before They Come
Clear the air of all unresolved problems and resentment between you and your aging parent. Allowing such tension to remain will create a negative environment, and close proximity will hurt rather than help your family relationships. Children often pick up on their parents’ stress, and if you are stressed, chances are that your children will be more anxious and fretful as well.

Prepare your child beforehand for the changes that will be made. Explain to them that some things in their lives will be very different now; for example, the children may have new responsibilities to help around the house because of the extra tasks you will be attending to. Be sure to emphasize the positive aspect of this change in their livesthe opportunity to come together as a family and spend more time with Grandma or Grandpaand reassure them that you will still have time for them and that everything will be okay.

After Arrival
Establish a routine. Having a schedule can help everyone feel a little more secure and less stressed; routine is important for young and old alike. Allow yourself a little bit of time to figure out what works best for you and your family.

Explain the what and why of medical equipment. The presence of strange metal and plastic devices (walkers, nebulizers, oxygen tanks, etc.) can intimidate children or make them curious, resulting in them touching things they shouldn’t. Explain gently what each thing is and what it is for, and tell the child what boundaries there are concerning it. For example: This little plastic box is Grandpa’s nebulizer. He uses it to help him breathe better. Don’t touch it, please, or it might not work when Grandpa needs it to. In addition, be sure to address safety concerns with such equipment as they come up for both kids and grandparents. For instance, don’t let children play on electric wheelchairs or stand on the battery box, and avoid taking electric wheelchairs out in the rain. Keep very small children or babies away from medical equipment and gate doorways and take other precautions as necessary.

Give your parent a private space where they can have jurisdiction. Your aging parent most likely feels an increasing loss of control over his or her life, and thus it is important to help maintain independence as much as possible and allow them some space of their own, free from the disorder that young children often leave in their wake. Make sure your children know that this room is their grandparent’s room, and they must ask permission before entering it.

Encourage one-on-one time between your child and your parent. Give them simple activities to do together, and ask your parent to tell your child stories about when he or she was young. This is a great way to encourage bonding and keep some of your family stories alive. Who knowsyou may learn something you hadn’t known about your parent before. Also, giving your child opportunities to help your loved one can help them bond with their grandparent and make them feel important and useful.
Look for things to be grateful for, and find simple ways to create memories.

Create an environment of open communication and respect. Communication is key in this situation, as it is with all relationships. Make it safe for both your children and your aging parent to approach you about concerns. Model respectful behavior toward your parent for your child. An open communication platform in a loving environment will make the whole atmosphere of the home better for everyone.

Be sure to take some time for yourself. It sounds cliché, but that’s because it’s true: the importance of adequate sleep and regular exercise cannot be overstated. Consider them an investment rather than a wastetaking that time for yourself will make you better able to fulfill your responsibilities and will make you much more pleasant to be around.

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