Multigenerational living can help an aging parent avoid the sense of isolation and depression that may come with living alone. However, by this time in life, you have a set way of doing things. Your likes, dislikes, value, and personalities have also changed over time.

AARP’s article from 2018 asks “Considering Moving Your Loved One into Your Home?” This is still a timely article. It notes that, regardless of how close and loving your relationship may be, adding another person to your household changes the dynamics for the entire family. The journey will be smoother, if you and your loved one go in with some clear parameters.

First, prior to moving your parent into the guest room, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How will the move impact my spouse, children and my siblings?
  • How will my parent’s presence impact my family routine, activities and privacy?
  • Will I need to remodel the house or add a bedroom or bath?
  • Will my siblings help with some expenses?
  • Can we afford to do this?
  • Should part of my parent’s income be used to help defray living expenses?
  • Will this change require me to alter my work schedule?
  • How will I create boundaries?
  • How does my parent feel about moving in with my family?
  • How do I feel about this change?

Next, your parent should consider these questions.

  • Will this move take me away from people or activities I enjoy?
  • Do I like being with this family for long periods of time?
  • Are they expecting me to contribute some of my income or savings to living expenses?
  • If the home requires remodeling to accommodate me, am I able to help pay for it?
  • Will my other children help out?
  • If I don’t like something my child does, am I comfortable talking to him about it?
  • What are my feelings about being dependent?

You should then have an open and frank discussion about expectations, fears, finances and any lingering issues. It may be as easy as telling each other what bothers you (since the other person may not otherwise know and would be happy to make a change).

After this, create a list of the positive aspects and refer to it when you have a bad day with the arrangement.

Next, conduct a pair of meetings. Let your children know that they’re not the cause of their grandparent’s possible negative reactions, such as anger, weeping or fear. Tell them that the whole family needs to contribute, but they aren’t responsible for caregiving or fixing their grandparent. Discuss ways that the children can help their grandparent.

The other meeting is with your siblings. In addition to acknowledging that your parent needs help and will likely need more, it can be an emotional realization for all of you. Talk it out. You also shouldn’t be shy about asking for help.

Gifts of time are important in helping you manage other responsibilities in your life. Let your siblings know about your anticipated needs, like serving as a back-up and respite care, help with chores, meals delivered, grocery and prescription pickup and money to offset increased living expenses or to hire an aide.

Last but not least, special considerations need to be given to health and safety concerns of seniors during the coronavirus pandemic.  Make sure to plan appropriately for the safety and wellbeing of loved ones.

Reference: AARP (Jan. 22, 2018) “Considering Moving Your Loved One into Your Home?”