February 28, 2019

Cropped shot of a young woman and her senior mother

When your aging parent can no longer safely live alone in their home, your first instinct might be to invite them to move in with you. If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 report from AARP on caregiving in America, more than one in three older adults who receive caregiver support from a family member also live in the family member’s household.

Opening your doors to an aging parent is a generous gesture, but it’s not always the right option for everyone. While multigenerational living provides many benefits, it may also present some significant challenges. Without careful forethought, this arrangement can lead to fatigue, stress, financial worries, and even strained relationships. Before moving your parent into your home, take some time to consider the following questions carefully:

1. Is there enough room in your home? Will you need to make renovations?

Having a parent move into your home will inevitably require some adjustments.  If your current home doesn’t have a spare bedroom, you might consider building an extra room or adding an “in-law apartment” to your home. You may also need to make modifications to other parts of your home, such as the bathrooms, to ensure they are safe and easily accessible for your parent. It’s important to factor these potential costs into your budget before deciding to move an aging parent into your home.

2. Do you have the time and energy to provide caregiving support?

Many times, older adults move in with their adult children after their health starts to decline and they need more help. If this is the case with your parent, it’s a good idea to talk with their physician to evaluate their current health and determine the type and level of care they may need. Taking on the role of caregiver isn’t a decision to take lightly. First, consider your current schedule. Are you prepared to juggle work, social activities, self-care and family responsibilities? Before assuming the role of a full-time caregiver, ask yourself if you truly have the time and energy to give your parent the attention they may need.

3. What will you do when your parent’s needs increase?

There may come a time when your parent’s health needs increase and you cannot care for them on your own. Before your parent moves in with you, sit down with them to discuss plans for the future. There are plenty of resources to turn to when the time comes. You may think about arranging for a part-time caregiver to come to your home a few times a week. Or, consider the benefits of a senior living community, where your parent will have access to quality care from a team of dedicated caregivers.

4. How will the family dynamics change?

Bringing another person into your home, even a family member, is a decision that affects the entire household. Before moving your parent in, have a meeting with your spouse and children to talk about the potential new living arrangement, and how it might impact the family’s routine and activities. This decision may also involve your siblings and other family members as well. Be sure to include them in discussions about the arrangement and ask for help if necessary. 

5. How does your parent feel about moving?

At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for our parents. Sit down with your parent and ask how they feel about moving. It can be difficult for older adults to adjust to a new environment, even a family member’s home. If they are hesitant about the decision – or if you have already moved your parent into your home and it isn’t working out as you expected – it might be time to consider a different living arrangement. Maybe moving into assisted living is the better choice for your parent. In an assisted living community, your parent will have their own private living space, along with 24-hour access to personal care and opportunities for social engagement in a community of their peers. Compared to living at home, many older adults find that assisted living is a better option for their overall health and happiness.