Intrafamily care was common in the United States several generations ago. With today’s aging population, there are indicators that not only baby boomers, but millennials, are inviting their parents to move in with them, renovating their homes to accommodate a surviving parent. With the rising costs of nursing home care, children are reverting to the “old ways” of multigenerational living, giving the children both peace of mind regarding the parent’s care, and reducing many of the stresses related to long distance caregiving. A side benefit is the home is then senior-suitable when they need it.
Multi-Generational Living: Parents Living with Adult Children
A 2015 study by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving shows that 34 million people are looking after someone 50 or older. Of those, nearly 9 million are living with the person they care for. Some reside in the parents’ or grandparents’ home, but more and more, children have moved away from their childhood homes, and have established a life in a different community making it logical to have the parent move in with them.
How to Prepare
It is extremely important to prepare for such a move, as it will be a big adjustment for everyone. Even though she recognizes logically that this is the best choice, Mom may still resist leaving her home, friends, and the familiar to move to an entirely new community where she may be more dependent. Preparation can make the process easier. First and foremost, if the family member is able, they should be involved in all decision making. Working with counselors, Elder Law Attorneys, and clergy, if appropriate, can pave the way for a smoother transition.
Some things to think about include working out the financial details first. Will siblings help? How much can the parent afford to contribute? If the parent provides funds for the renovations, how will that affect the inheritance of any siblings? Have the appropriate legal steps been taken to protect Medicaid eligibility, such as a written caregiver agreement? Possible tax deductions should be investigated. Details of the financial arrangements should be ironed out prior to starting any renovations, or moving mom and/or dad.
Making the home senior friendly is very important. It is important to consider the whole family and, if possible, find ways to make the parent or parents feel independent but still part of the family. Separate living quarters can go a long way to furthering the senior’s independence. Small items such as levers to replace door knobs and grab bars in the bathroom are recommended. Making sure rugs are non-slip and widening doorways for wheelchair and walker access might be necessary. Large, readable labels on appliances, television amplification and soundproofing between rooms could make all the difference. Careful thought should be given to living space so that everyone is comfortable.
It is important, too, that the family caregivers receive the help and support that they need, both from siblings and from outside sources. Home health care workers, respite care, adult day care, and meal programs are all possible sources of assistance. The AARP publishes many books and online resources offering helpful ideas and information.
Choosing to care for an aging relative can be a wonderful, mutually satisfying decision. It can be rooted in the simple fact that families take care of one another. If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to care for an aging relative, and the relative is not so ill that such care is possible, with good preparation and clear vision, the intergenerational family can still work today.
— Written by Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., CELA*
*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose. If you are faced with a legal matter, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure that you are protected.