As baby boomers age, their adult children often face challenging questions about caring for their elders. Not everyone is suited for multi-generational living. Be honest as you ask yourself these questions.
What are your parents’ health needs?
Do they still have the ability to care for themselves? What health challenges run in your family? If your parents have a chronic illness or disability, talk to their doctors about their care. Know how many medical appointments they require and consider who will accompany them. How will this impact your available time for your family or your hobbies?
Are you emotionally, financially and physically capable of caring for your parents?
With aging comes the potential for increased health challenges. When both spouses work full-time and care is needed, who will become the caregiver? Look at your financial planning as well as your physical and emotional capacity, and create a plan early. Compare the advantages of a long-term facility where there might be on-call medical help versus hiring an at-home nurse.
Is your home a good fit for multi-generational living?
Do you have a separate living space for parents? Will you need to make adjustments to your home – like adding elevators or ramps, widening doorways, or adding handicapped bathroom fixtures? Remodeling expenses add up quickly.
How much care do your children require?
Can you manage the needs of your children along with those of your parents? Are your children young and active? Sometimes this can stress an elderly parent physically, leading to more strain on their overall health. Are your children still babies or toddlers with unpredictable sleep patterns? Sleep deprivation may create health problems for you — or at the very least — tension in the household.
Are your parents willing?
Swapping roles from caregiver to dependent can bring strain to a relationship. Do your parents want to move in with you? Do they define themselves as a burden? Consider creating a plan to encourage their independence with activities out of the home. Adding a few responsibilities inside the home can help them feel like contributors. Also think about whether you will expect them to contribute to household expenses and how. Have this discussion before they move in to a multi-generational home situation.
What is your family history?
If you’ve had a history of high conflict with your parents, think about how this will affect your family’s quality of life. Living close by in an assisted-living facility with frequent visits may allow for a better relationship.
What are the benefits to a multi-generational household?
Talk to your accountant about whether you can add your parents as dependents on your income taxes. Can home modifications and medical expenses benefit your taxes? Beyond the finances, some recent studies have explored the possibility that living with and caring for children benefit elderly relatives’ health. Likewise, children often reap huge benefit from a strong bond with grandparents.