As children grow into adults and move out to start their own lives, most don’t think they’ll ever find themselves living with mom and dad again. We all know that that happens more and more frequently as college grads move back home to save money while looking for that first job or even later in life if they encounter major financial struggles. But when it’s mom or dad making the move to live with their grown children, the shifted dynamics can be difficult to cope with for both sides.
Should you move an aging parent in?
Because the dynamics can be frustrating for both mom or dad and their adult children, some aging experts advise against making this move. In reality, each family’s circumstances and outcomes will be different. But you should take time to consider the possibilities and determine whether this is the right choice for your family.
Advance planning can go a long way in this department, according to Suzanna De Baca, who writes for TIME Healthland. De Baca’s friend, Victoria, opted to move her aging mother into her home after the death of her father. But Victoria had a plan in place already, which made the transition much easier for everyone. She had already discussed the options with both of her parents before her father passed, with a plan in place to sell her parents’ home and use the proceeds to add a bedroom and bathroom onto her home to accommodate her mother’s needs, who was wheelchair-bound and needed assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).
For this family, the decision was the right one and because they discussed their plans in advance, the decision was easy to make. Victoria’s mother spent six years living in her home before she passed, and while it wasn’t always easy, Victoria tells De Baca it’s a time that she will treasure forever.
If you’re moving mom or dad in, have a candid conversation first.
If you have the option of discussing long-term care options with both of your parents while they’re still able to participate in the decision-making process, the decisions will be much easier to make knowing that everyone’s wishes are being accommodated. Be realistic about what you’ll need to do to prepare, how much it will cost and where the funds will come from.
- Will you need to renovate your home or add accommodations if your parents become disabled?
- Who will handle their finances?
- Do you have all the details on their insurance policies and know what medications and supplies are needed and covered?
- Do you work full time, and will you be able to continue to do so?
- If you must reduce your hours or quit your job, will your family be stable financially?
- Who will be responsible for arranging for and transportation to healthcare appointments?
- Are there other siblings who live nearby who could contribute to care in some way, such as bringing lunch for mom or dad while you’re at work or handling some of the insurance or financial matters?
But first and foremost, do your parents want to move into your home? Sometimes, aging parents ask their children not to make this decision because they don’t want to feel like a burden. In other cases, you may have a very active aging mother who would rather meet new friends and go on outings with groups from an assisted living facility or independent living community. The type of long-term care setting available will depend on your parent’s health and medical needs at the time, so it’s important to discuss a backup plan if, for instance, your father opts to move to a retirement community but his needs later become more than he can manage alone.
Living with adult kids: Improved or enhanced isolation?
Being in a home with close family members can be comforting to an aging parent. But will mom be missing out on some great socialization opportunities she could be getting by moving to an assisted living facility? Maybe dad moves in, but you’re so busy transporting your children to their after-school activities and going to work that dad finds himself at home most of the time alone.
There are solutions for these circumstances, as well. You may have a local senior center nearby that your parent could visit during the lonely daytime hours, or even an adult day care that could assist with minimal activities of daily living if your parent is unsafe to be at home alone. Some adult day care facilities even have specialized programming for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
The choice is yours
In the end, it’s an individual family’s choice, and what’s right for one family may not be the right decision for their neighbors. The most important thing to do is start the discussion early and have a plan A and a plan B to account for unforeseen circumstances. Outlining who will be in charge of what duties and how things like home modifications will be paid for in advance will save everyone much heartache and stress when the time arrives.