Over the last 20 years while practicing elder law, our aging adult clients have told us that their primary goal is to maintain their independence and stay in their home. This desire to “age in place” has been increasing in popularity. Even before the pandemic, polls were showing a shift to the living trend of a century ago, when most seniors lived in multi-generational homes with their adult children. The American Association for Retire Persons (AARP) reports that older parents are moving in with their adult children at an increasing rate. AARP states “Today, 14 percent of adults living in someone else’s household are a parent of the household head, up from 7 percent in 1995”
Multigenerational living can be a great benefit for some, while for others, it can lead to family conflict. No matter how close the relationship between you and your aging parent, issues can, and mostly likely will, arise. You both are not the same people you were when you were a child. Your roles are no longer simply defined. You, your family, and your parent have your own established routines, beliefs, and patterns of behavior.
There are several things to consider before moving a loved one into your home. Think about:
- How will this move affect your relationship with your loved one?
- Are your current household members (spouse, children) accepting of this change in family dynamics?
- How will you deal with conflicts that may arise?
- Are your lifestyles compatible regarding entertaining guests, noise levels, and sleeping habits?
- Is there enough room in your home or will someone need to give up “their space”?
- Are there stairs to navigate?
- Can the house accommodate ambulation devices such as a walker or wheelchair, if needed?
- Will your loved one be bringing their own furniture into the space and if so, how will it fit?
- Would building an “in-law” apartment onto your existing home or utilizing a standalone structure on the property work for your family?
Extended Family Dynamic
- How would this move affect other members of the family (i.e., your adult siblings) and their relationship with you and your loved one?
- How will work be divided if these are your shared parents and their needs grow with time?
- If daily support needs increase over time, would the family be willing to utilize resources to assist with caring for your loved one, such as professional in-home care or local senior support services?
- Will your loved one contribute to monthly household costs like food, utilities, and rent?
- If changes need to be made to the home, who will be paying for them?
Have a Conversation
Most importantly, talk with your aging loved one. Ask them what their wishes are as they continue to age. You might be surprised to learn that they do not want to live in a multigenerational setting and would prefer to explore other living situations such as a retirement community or assisted living community.
Talking about these issues early-on is the best way to serve all involved. If moving your loved one into your home is the right next step for your family, be sure to seek the guidance of an experienced elder law attorney. At Generations Law Group, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you think through and address the many issues that may arise to make this transition a positive and successful experience for all.
Founded by a nurse attorney and with offices in Acton, Burlington, and Sudbury, Massachusetts, Generations Law Group helps families navigate the complex areas of estate planning, elder law and probate to inform and protect loved ones of every generation.
 https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2018/adults-live-with-children-fd.html, Patrick Kiger, AARP, February 5, 2018