More and more extended families are moving in together these days — with kids, parents, and grandparents sharing the same home. They are doing this for lots of reasons. Many families want to spend more time together. For starters, combining households can make financial sense. And sometimes older parents need care, so families decide moving in together is the best way to give that help.
No matter what your reasons for thinking about a multi-generational household, there are questions you’ll definitely want to ask about before you decide to make the decision.
You love ’em. Can you live with them?
Let’s be honest: You can love people who sometimes drive you a little nuts. Does your mom enjoy waking up at 5:00 am and singing along to the radio while she cooks breakfast? Does your dad like to be “helpful” by putting away things in places you can’t find them?
Be honest with your parents about how you feel about living with them. Ask them to be honest with you, and talk about expectations. Your parents might think you will eat together every night. You might think they will do plenty of babysitting. You both might be surprised.
Have personal space?
Where will your parents sleep? What bathroom will they use? There’s a good chance you didn’t plan on your parents living with you when you bought your house, so these are important questions to address from the get-go.
One solution is to buy a bigger house with your parents. Another is to create an apartment for them. Before you do, check local regulations because many houses are zoned for “single families” and you want to make sure your construction follows the rules.
Think about your parents’ needs now and later. They might need a bathroom with a walk-in shower or a bedroom on the first floor so they don’t have to climb stairs. Even if your mom and dad are in good health today, that doesn’t mean they won’t need some kind of care in the future.
And the money is coming from … whom?
Building an addition or making renovations isn’t cheap, so it’s reasonable to talk about sharing the expense — along with household bills for food and utilities. Simply talk about who is paying for what and how much it will cost. If it looks like you’ll have to foot the bill for a good portion of this, consider what that will do for both your short-term budgeting and long-term financial plans.
How much care will your parents need?
One reason older parents move in with their children is because they need help managing their health. We all want to take care of the people who took care of us, but we also need to be honest about how much care a parent needs and how much care we can provide.
Depending on the level of care, keep in mind that taking caring of an aging parent can become a full-time job all by itself. Recognize when you need assistance, because home health aides can be a huge help.
Also, accept your limits. When your mom or dad needs more care than you can give, consider finding a facility that specializes in this type of continuing care.
Parents living with their children can be exciting and rewarding, but it isn’t for every family. So think about a range of options. Check this out: 6 Things to Look for in a 55+ Community