They were always there for you, and if and when it becomes time to return the favor, it can present many challenges. However, either due to the death of one spouse, illness, or financial hardships, it is becoming more and more common for one or more elderly parent to come and live with their adult children.
According to the most recent report by Pew Research Center, of adults living in someone else’s household, “14% were the parent of the household head in 2017, up from 7% in 1995. While the rise in shared living during and immediately after the recession was attributed in large part to a growing number of millennials moving back in with their parents, the longer-term increase has been partially driven by a different phenomenon: parents moving in with their adult children,” according to the Pew report.
If you still have kids or teens at home, or your children also return home after college, you can find yourself with quite the “Full House.”
“It’s a life-changing event,” says Dara Luber, speaking to US Today. Luber is a senior manager for retirement product at TD Ameritrade. “The most important thing is to make a plan. Discuss your goals, the finances and the blueprint, which includes the possibility of in-home care or nursing home care.”
Here are some other tips on how to care for aging parents in your home.
An additional family member living under your roof, particularly an elderly parent who may have special needs, will add new costs to your monthly budget. “Depending on whether healthcare is needed for aging parents, often the most disruptive implications are the financial cost of supporting another dependent and having the space to accommodate them in the household dynamics,” says H. Adam Holt, founder, and CEO of Asset-Map in Philadelphia. Despite it being a potentially awkward subject, you must discuss whether your parent will be contributing their Social Security income or other retirement assets, or sources of income toward the household expenses.
Some people need to cut back on other costs in order to financially support taking in an elderly parent. “Make sure you are adjusting your own financial plan. It may mean you need to work longer or save more or spend less,” Luber says. “The adult children may not be prepared for the fact that having their parents move in might have an impact on how they save for their own retirement.”
You May Need to Hire Help
Depending on your own situation, if you are still working full time, and/or taking care of your own kids full-time, you may need to consider hiring help for grandma and grandpa. Even if you want to, and think you can be your parent’s primary caregiver, the experts say that few adult children are prepared for just how challenging being a caregiver can be. “Caring for a parent with significant health problems who needs help with basic living tasks can quickly become overwhelming,” says Mitchell Katz, partner, and co-founder of Capital Associates Wealth Management in Bethesda, Maryland.
It can be difficult to balance caregiving responsibilities with a full-time job. An aging parent might need 24-hour care. You could hire a home health aide during your working hours or use an adult day health care service, but this can be very expensive in many parts of the country Katz says.
You also need to prepare your home to make it safer for an elderly parent. Consider whether your parents will be able to handle stairs, or if they will need a bedroom on the first floor. Find out if your doorways are wide enough for wheelchair access and if you might need to install wheelchair ramps.
It can be exhausting and emotionally draining to provide round-the-clock care for an older relative. “It’s not easy to care for an aging parent,” Katz says. “Make sure you take into consideration family dynamics and determine who will be responsible for what.”
Plan in Advance
As with any potentially major life-changing event, the best you can do to deal with an elderly parent or parents that need to move into your home is to prepare for it in advance as much as possible.
You don’t want to be initiating a move in the middle of a crisis or urgent situation, such as a health emergency or the death of one parent. Both your spouse and children need to be included in these relocation discussions and be prepared for the eventuality of one or more elderly parent coming to live with you.
If your living situation is such that having an elderly parent come to live with you is simply impossible due to space or other considerations, then be sure to have some other plan in place, either for home healthcare in their homes, or assisted living, or another type of long-term care facility.
The last thing you want is to be suddenly faced with the prospect of an aging parent who can no longer fend for themselves, and say, “What do we do now?”