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When Seniors Move in with their Children

Setting the Scene for Success
When families make the decision that elderly parents will move in with their adult children, the most important things are to plan in advance and have open, honest discussions. Every family is different, and every situation is different. But there are some things that every family should keep in mind to avoid some of the emotional turmoil that can result when different adult generations live under one roof.

Topics to discuss
Most of the information below is based on the assumption that the older person moving into the house is fairly mobile and in pretty good health.

Kitchen habits and eating arrangements: Everyone needs to have the same expectations about this. It’s hard to give up your own kitchen. Who’s going to do most of the cooking? Does your mother plan on moving in and cooking dinner every night? If so, is that okay with you? Do you and your parent or parent-in-law expect to eat dinner together every night? On the other hand, does your parent or parent-in-law expect you to prepare the meals all the time? Are your tastes in food compatible? Do you all know the answers to these questions? If not, talk about how you would expect your days to go in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Household chores: Again, make sure everybody’s got the same idea about this. As part of the younger generation, you may think you should take care of the house and let your parent relax. But do you know your parent wants it that way? Maybe she or he would like to contribute a little. Talk it through, even though it may feel awkward.

Expenses: For lots of families, there’s little that’s more awkward than talking about money. But if you don’t do it, you’re opening the door to possible resentment down the road. Will you be sharing household expenses, such as groceries, or will you be covering everything yourself? Will you continue to pay your rent or mortgage on your own, or will your parent contribute?

If younger children are involved: Are three generations living under one roof? That can make things even trickier. Sometimes grandparents feel the need to discipline their grandchildren or express opinions about the way they’re being raised. Try to agree beforehand that parents should keep their parental role and grandparents should have the same kind of relationship with their grandchildren they’ve always had. This makes things easier on everybody.

What about your parent’s furniture: It will probably be a comfort for your parent to have some of their own furniture in the house. Have you talked about this? Are you willing to rearrange things a bit to accommodate your parent’s things?

Can everybody get a little privacy?
Does your parent have a decent-sized bedroom? Is there a bathroom attached? If not, this might be the time to invest in your home to create a comfortable space.

What about the future?
Have you talked about what will happen if your parent becomes sick or frail and needs more care? Do you know who will be the main caregiver? How will that affect your work schedule? All of these issues need to be covered before they happen—if they happen.

A good rule of thumb
Plan it out, share your thoughts and feelings and most important of all, suspend judgment whenever possible. Start your statements with “I” rather than “you,’ as in “I miss cooking meals for my family,” rather than, “You just want to take over in that kitchen!”

Respect everyone else’s feelings and remember how important unconditional love among family members is.

How to Cope With Elderly Parents Moving In

Moving Your Elder in with You: Practical Tips & Suggestions

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