House-to-house Care Arrangement: Effects on Seniors & Families | Homage

House-to-house Care Arrangement: Effects on Seniors & Families

Relocating our parents or grandparents from house-to-house is a common care arrangement among siblings but is it a healthy routine? Find out in this article!

by Calvyn Ee

As of 2022, the percentage of elderly persons in Malaysia accounts for 7.3 per cent of the total population; that’s almost 2.4 million people. Based on the United Nations’ definition, Malaysia is now an ageing society as those above 65 years of age now account for 7 per cent of the country’s total population. In fact, we’ve already transitioned as early as 2020.

It’s normal for Malaysian families to look after their ageing parents or relatives; you may be familiar with multiple generations of your family living together under one roof. Moreover, our Asian heritage has always emphasised the importance of filial piety, of looking after your elders, and to treat them with respect and dignity. Married couples find themselves squeezed between their responsibilities of taking care of their kids and also their loved ones; they fall under what is known as the “sandwich generation”: sandwiched between their kids and their elders.

As it is, the financial burden of caregiving for a loved one can be astronomical. It’s therefore ideal when siblings are able to make caregiving arrangements between one another in order to help care for their loved ones while ensuring everyone has a role to play and isn’t burned out from having to do so many things at once. In most cases, it’s normal that they relocate their loved ones from house to house as part of these care arrangements.

Why House-to-House Care?

For some families, relocation or house-to-house care arrangements make the most sense for a number of reasons.

  • Everyone’s busy: The reality is that everyone has lives of their own to attend to. It can be work, it can be watching over the kids, it can be a plethora of things. Ultimately, wanting to be with your loved ones at all times is an impossible task to do, especially when you have commitments you must attend to.
  • Convenience for everyone: As such, distributing the caregiving load makes the most sense so as to not have caregiving interfere with your other commitments. Everyone can chip in in their own way without needing to send their loved ones to a care facility that would seem foreign to them.
  • Rising care costs: Moreover, getting live-in care at a nursing home or care facility can quickly become expensive. Having to include yet another financial concern can end up becoming a point of stress for you and your family.

Should you invest in-home care or would a nursing home be more suitable? Read here to find out things you should consider before making the best decision.

While the taboo of sending your elderly loved ones to a care facility is diminishing, there are still the underlying notions of guilt and responsibility you’d feel for having to place them there. Even though you know you’re not abandoning them there, it still does leave you feeling guilty and worried for their wellbeing. This is especially true when you’re very close to your loved ones. It’s also hardwired in us to be responsible for taking good care of them as they age in return for all they’ve done to raise you.

As a result, you and your siblings/family agree that house-to-house care arrangements would be for the best of everyone involved, especially your loved ones. While it is indeed advantageous in the long run, it does have some caveats you’ll need to consider – and also speak at length about with the rest of your family.

The Effects of Frequent Relocation or House-to-House Arrangements for Seniors

The Effects of House-to-House Arrangements for Seniors | Homage

There are various ways house-to-house care arrangements can adversely affect you, your family members and your loved ones, even if everyone knows what needs to be done.

Relocation Stress

For starters, your elderly parents/relatives are constantly being moved around on a frequent basis. It could be that they spend two to three days, or a week, staying at your house before they’re later moved to your sibling’s home. In some cases, your loved one can have a hard time adjusting to life elsewhere, even if it’s in the home of someone who will care for them.

Situations like this can cause relocation stress syndrome (RSS), sometimes known as transfer trauma. While RSS is often associated with moving a loved one to a senior care facility, it can still happen even in circumstances like moving from house to house. Your loved one could develop signs of stress, anxiety, confusion, and even depression, which can contribute to a decline in their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Loved ones who have existing health complications, such as dementia, are also at greater risk of developing RSS.

Signs of RSS can appear at any time and can be misdiagnosed as something else. It can make it difficult to move your loved one when the time comes, as they may refuse to agree with the decision even if they know it’s for their own good. Oftentimes, it can result from the emotional value they place in where they’re staying; this is especially pronounced if your loved ones have been independent for the greater part of their lives, and moving away from a place that feels like home to them can be rather painful or traumatic to deal with.

This loss of meaning and value can result in feelings of “fear, loss of control, loss of choice, and lack of the familiar.” If left untreated, RSS can eventually lead to a further decline in health that can be fatal.

Disagreements with Siblings/Family Members

Even if your loved ones understand and agree to the need for moving, your siblings or family members may have their own objections. Many times an argument between family members can occur because of any number of reasons: feelings of jealousy, miscommunication, feeling overburdened by the caregiving arrangements, and so forth.

Everyone might initially be on board with the care arrangements and everyone has a crucial role to play to care for their loved ones’ well-being. But plans can change very suddenly at times: perhaps your loved one is refusing to move to another sibling’s house, for example. Perhaps unexpected developments force you to care for your loved ones longer and no one can take them in for the time being. Ultimately, there will be times when it seems as though the plan is flawed and that no one is willing to pull their weight.

Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is a noble thing to do, but it isn’t without its challenges. For sandwich generation caregivers especially, having to juggle between the needs of their children and of their elderly loved ones can eventually take its toll. The stress of caregiving can accumulate over time, leading to caregiver burnout.

Caregiver burnout can happen for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because caregivers don’t feel appreciated or don’t have a support channel to allow them to vent. Other times, caregivers simply don’t have time to take breaks as they have to do so many things all at once. Whatever it may be, caregiver burnout will take a hefty toll on your overall well-being if you aren’t careful.

It becomes important to prioritize yourself from time to time, but for some caregivers, this is simply not possible. However, not addressing caregiver burnout will only have negative implications to your caregiving process.

Feelings of Guilt

While you’re more than willing to care for your loved ones and attend to their needs, they may not necessarily agree with your decision. They might feel like a burden to have to trouble you and your other family members to take care of them all the time. This is especially true if your loved ones have always been independent and never relied on anyone for anything. The sudden change in their life can make them feel as though they’ve lost control of their life, and can potentially lead to depression.

Ultimately, it’s never easy to have to go through such motions. Sometimes, those feelings of guilt can turn into resentment and that can erode your relationship with them. Other times, your loved one might simply refuse to accept your help. All in all, these factors can quickly contribute to caregiver burnout.

Tips to Handle Relocation Stress/Anxiety

Relocation stress can be a headache to deal with, especially if you don’t know how to adequately address it. Here are some helpful tips to get you going on the right track.

Tell Them In Advance

Tell Them In Advance

It might seem like common sense to do this, but some people do underestimate how important communication is. And it isn’t just about telling your loved ones that they’re moving to someone else’s place the day before the move. What this really means is to tell your loved ones about the arrangement to move them from house to house and what it entails.

You’d do well to keep them in the loop about this, too. After all, it would ensure that they don’t feel like they’re simply being tossed around for no reason. On that note, be sure to tell them why this arrangement is necessary and how it can benefit them at the same time. You can also allow them to be part of the decision-making as well so they understand what’s needed for their overall care. They deserve the dignity of knowing the truth, after all.

Communicating about the plan might not go very smoothly, but as long as you take the time to listen to their needs and help them understand why this arrangement is important for their recovery and well-being, you and your loved ones will be able to work through this together.

Let Them Choose What to Bring

Let Them Choose What to Bring | Homage

The adage “home is where the heart is” has a lot more meaning to it than simply referring to a physical home. Having your loved ones be able to choose something to bring with them with every move can have a profound, positive effect that can help them with readjusting each time they move to another house.

It might seem strange to do this since they’re always going to be in the same few houses and being in the care of family. But little assurances like this can be helpful to keep their mood and even mental health in good shape. It’s always the thought that counts, and if having it with your loved one puts them at ease whenever they move around, it’s very much important to let them have it on them at all times.

Create a Home for Them

Create a Home for Them | Homage

In conjunction with letting them hold on to something they cherish, creating a safe, homely space for them also helps out in the long run. It can be as simple as setting up photos near their bedside table or having decorations that they like around the house. Talk to them about a setup they might like, too, such as having a desk and chair in their room if they like to journal or write in their free time.

Knowing that there’s something familiar to them available is a very reassuring fact, as it means that their needs are being looked after every step of the way. It’s positive reinforcement that can really help with their overall well-being, even if they may not be in the best of health.


Emphatise | Homage

It’s just as important to validate their feelings and emotions. They’re human, too, just like yourself. Maybe they’re also worried about how things will proceed; maybe they’re afraid of whether they can adapt to this change or not. It can feel overwhelming to experience such a wide spectrum of emotions and feel like nothing will be the same anymore. The least you can do to help them is to be there for them and listen to what they have to say.

Patience, empathy and love for your loved one are all vital components to helping your loved ones get used to this new norm for them. Losing one’s independence can take a hefty toll on a person as much as being reliant on others for activities they used to do on their own. Letting them speak their mind freely can be very liberating for your loved ones and they’ll be appreciative of you and your other family members to lend them a shoulder to cry on.

Visit Often

Living with elderly parents

Again, this might seem like something you’d do in the first place, but it bears reminding because of how important your visits can be to your loved ones. Even if you live a few doors away, or need to commute 30 minutes to reach them, any visit you make is a meaningful one that can help you bond ever closer with your loved ones. It tells your loved ones that they are loved and valued and that you and your family members will never leave them to fend for themselves.

Sometimes, the simplest acts of kindness are the best way you can express your love and affection for your loved ones.

Adjusting To Their Inclusion at Home

Living with elderly parents: Helping them to adjust to relocation | Homage

In the same way, it can take some time for your loved ones to adjust to the new care arrangements, it’s also the same thing with you and your family members in sharing a roof with them. Occasionally, your loved ones might make various unexpected requests or refuse to cooperate when taking their medications or doing something else. Sometimes, disagreements can start from the most innocuous of incidents and end up pushing the wrong buttons; tempers can flare in such times.

There’s a good reason why you and your family members are working together to provide a safe space for your loved ones, and you should remember that by coming together as a family, everyone can help to take good care of your loved ones and minimize arguments.

Budget Considerations

The most important conversation to have is about managing the budget for your loved one’s care. With everyone chipping in, it’ll be easier to address medication replenishment, follow-up treatments and more. A simple way would be to set up a pool of funds that will go solely to your loved one’s care needs.

For example, each person can contribute RM60 a month to this fund; if there are six family members, you now have RM360 a month. You can add smaller amounts as well in case the pool is low on funds. With so many things that need to be bought and services/utilities to pay for, expenses can easily rise without anyone realizing it. And this also excludes unprecedented changes that can arise without warning.

Adjustments may also be needed to accommodate your loved one’s mobility, which will require more expenses to be made. Be sure to discuss in detail how to equally distribute the financial burden between one another so no one feels like they’re shouldering more than the others.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries gives everyone a safe space to recuperate or to take some time off for a while. It can mean having distinctions between private and shared spaces for privacy reasons and also concerns the do’s and don’ts around the house, among other things. Setting these ground rules isn’t to limit what anyone can do, but rather allows for mutual understanding and respect for each other’s personal space and well-being.

Take Time Off

On days when you’re not looking after your loved ones, make sure you take some time to recharge your caregiving batteries; it may be the right thing to do, but it can still have a significant impact on your personal well-being – positive or otherwise. Set aside time where you can be on your own while doing something to pass the time (such as going for a walk, meditating, and so forth).

It might seem a little strange to designate “me time” when your loved ones need care; you might even feel a little guilty for doing so. But every person can only tolerate so much before they feel burned out; it’s not a good idea to let such a thing happen so frequently. It’s not selfish to want to take some time for yourself; it’s the right thing to do so you can provide the caregiving your loved one deserves. The same also applies to your family members helping you out.

Talk to Each Other

Much like taking time off, communicating how you feel with your family members – and hearing them out as well – can be a huge boon to your shared caregiving duties. It fosters empathy and care for one another, as everyone’s doing their very best for your loved ones. You can always forge closer bonds from simple daily interactions, or even have a fun time together with a family dinner where everyone can come together and have a good time. Anything’s better than staying apart, after all.

Get Professional Help

Sometimes, it’s best to speak to the doctors when some things don’t go as you hoped they would. Seek out their expert advice on difficult topics, such as when you have difficulty communicating with your loved ones owing to dementia or some other neurological disorder. When you don’t have the answers, a professional will be able to point you in the right direction.

You might need the help yourself, especially if you or a family member is going through caregiver burnout. Get the help you need to get you back on track. It will be a rather frightening experience at first, but with the love and support of your family, you’ll be able to get through this rough patch and be able to care for your loved ones as best as you can.

Age in Place with Homage

Living with elderly parents
Here at Homage, we are able to help you provide care for your loved ones from the comfort of your home. Whether you need someone to help out during the move, look after your loved one’s overall health, or even assist them with activities of daily living (ADLs), our trained Care Pros are able to provide
companionship, nursing care, night caregiving, home therapy and more to keep your loved ones active and engaged. Need some respite from constant caregiving? Our Care Pros can help you out as well, giving you time and space to rest and recover.

We offer flexible care plans that can be tailored to meet your needs. Contact our Care Advisory team at 016 299 2188 or fill in the form below for a free consultation today!


About the Writer
Calvyn Ee
Calvyn is an aspiring author, poet and storyteller. He spends his time reading, gaming and building stories with his action figure photography.
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