Intergenerational households are becoming more common, partly due to economic pressures and longer life spans. The number of parents living with their adult children increased by over 64 percent even in the years before the 2008 recession, according to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.
However, there can be drawbacks as well as benefits to having grandparents to grandchildren sharing one roof. Run down this checklist to help you address the many issues involved.
Financial and Logistical Factors
1. Pool your resources. With a combined household, you might be able to afford a bigger house or a more convenient neighborhood. The extra amenities will make the adjustment easier.
2. Hire a lawyer. Consulting a lawyer about family matters doesn’t have to be awkward. Think of it as protecting your assets and preventing conflicts. Written agreements can make final estate settlements much smoother.
3. Collect rent. Your parent may be willing and able to help cover expenses. Decide how you’re going to divide costs for housing, food, and other budget items.
4. Do the paperwork. Many seniors are computer savvy, but be ready to pitch in with some of the research and documentation for insurance claims and other services. Plus, sifting through boxes and files now will help you put things in order while your parents are still alive.
5. Tighten your belt. Caregiving can be expensive. Ask yourself how you feel about cutting back on vacations or dipping into your own savings to assist with your parent’s bills.
6. Adapt your home. There are many renovations that make life simpler for seniors with limited mobility or other concerns. Consider electric stair lifts or grab bars in the bathroom to prevent falls.
7. Plan ahead. In addition to solving today’s challenges, consider what your parent’s condition will be like 5 or 15 years down the road. Be realistic about how much you can do on your own to care for them.
Emotional and Social Factors
1. Assess your relationships. Living together may draw you closer together if you already get along well. On the other hand, a history of major conflicts may indicate that you and your parents would be better off making other arrangements.
2. Create ground rules. Look for ways to maximize your parent’s independence and everyone’s privacy. Clarify expectations about mealtimes, noise levels, and housework.
3. Involve your children. While living with grandparents creates wonderful opportunities for bonding and developing compassion, there are challenges too. Spend one-on-one time with your sons and daughters, especially if they’re giving up their bedrooms or a portion of your daily attention.
4. Take care of yourself. Remember to nurture yourself and your marriage while you’re taking on other responsibilities. Date nights may actually be easier if you can count on your parents instead of looking for a babysitter.
5. Encourage socializing. Staying engaged is vital for your parent’s wellbeing, and it will take some of the pressure off you. Check out neighborhood senior centers and cultural programs.
6. Seek support. Talk with your siblings about how to collaborate on paying your parents back for the love and guidance they gave you. You can also find classes and support groups for caregivers through churches, local agencies, or organizations like the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Think long and hard before you respond if your aging parent asks about moving in with you. It’s tough enough to fire an employee. Imagine having to tell your mother that it’s not working out. Careful planning and honest communication will help you make a decision your family will be happy to live with.