The number of middle-aged adults who are choosing to allow their elderly parents to move in with them and their families is increasing rapidly, according to USA Today. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of parents living with their adult children rose by more than 67 percent. Now, 36 percent of caregivers say the person they are caring for lives with them, according to a recent Gallup study.
Deciding whether to invite a parent to move in with the family is a tricky one. Many family caregivers who travel every day to see their elderly loved one encourage it to make caregiving easier. Others have noticed a change in their independently-living parent's condition, making them realize that he or she needs full-time care.
Before jumping into the idea of co-habitation, it is important to consider the emotional, financial and logistical aspects of it. The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) points out that living with an elderly family member may cause a change in familial roles. Adult children may have to come to terms with the fact that they are now parenting their parent, or they may struggle to take care of a parent who still feels authoritative despite his or her health condition. While some elders may contribute to household chores, others may add to them, which means children may need to step up and help out more, too, the organization says.
Also, lifestyle changes may be an issue. Before making the arrangement, the FCA recommends having a frank discussion with the parent about how bed times, meals, and having guests over will be handled. In addition, talk about the amount of time that still needs to be set aside for work and play. Part of the arrangement may include the services of a home care agency to provide companionship for the senior and respite care for the caregiver and family.
MarketWatch points out that there are also financial and legal matters to be sorted out before the co-habitation begins. The news source recommends figuring out whether the parent will be contributing to household costs, or whether the caregiver or current head of household can claim them as a dependent. In addition, families should have a will in place to protect the parent's legal rights. Fox Business lists caring for a parent as one of the top five expenses that can derail retirement, so caregivers should ensure that they can afford to house a parent if they will be dependent.
In addition, families need to make sure they have the physical means to house another person. Many families may choose to adapt their home to make it more comfortable for seniors, or undertake construction projects to offer them a sense of independent living while still living on-site. According to the Washington Post, home builders across the country are reporting an increasing number of requests for home additions that are being called "mother-in-law suites" or "granny flats." In fact, 62 percent of workers surveyed by the National Association of Home Builders said they were working on a home modification related to aging in 2010, the news source reports.
"There's both a physical component and a sensitivity side to these projects," Todd Jackson, EO of Jackson Design and Remodeling on San Diego told the news source. He added that elderly parents may worry about losing their independence once they move into an adult child's home.
Allowing elderly parents their own space in the family home can be rewarding for all members, however. It is simply a matter of planning and adjusting to make it go smoothly.