Many families choose to open their homes to aging parents when it becomes safer or more practical for them to be living with family rather than living alone. It can be a wonderful arrangement for everyone involved, but the transition isn’t always emotionally or financially simple.
If this is a situation that you and your loved ones are considering, here are five tips that may help:
1. Consider the cost
It’s not always as simple as having an extra mouth to feed. If your parent has special physical needs, a chronic health condition or a mental illness you will have to factor that into your family budget – and consider the additional emotional and physical strain it may have on you too.
Remember that if you can afford it, there are resources available to help you care for your aging parent in your home. Adult day care, senior recreation centers, personal caregivers and home care are invaluable options for adult children to consider, particularly if a parent is going to be home alone for most of the day.
2. Talk about finances
Will your parents pay rent? Will other siblings pitch in with any additional care expenses? Can you pool your money and purchase a larger home that will give dad more space? Can mom cover the cost of any renovations or special modifications that may have to be made to your home?
Figuring out the logistics and making a realistic plan to cover any additional expenses before that first suitcase comes in the front door is a good idea. Chances are your parent will want to contribute to the household in any way possible, so don’t feel uncomfortable discussing how they can pitch in.
3. Set boundaries
This is just as important for your parent as it is for you and your other family members. Respect each other’s privacy and routines, and talk about how much interaction you want to have.
Maybe Dad prefers to eat his meals alone, or Mom wants her own sitting room so she can choose to watch whatever TV show she wants, or you and your spouse need a few hours alone in the evening to reconnect and focus on each other.
Talking about these things right away will help make the transition smoother and avoid frustration and hurt feelings later.
4. Forge new bonds
You already have a relationship with your parent, but living with them may still feel a little strange at first. Find things to do together that are brand new to help you forge new bonds and experience new things together.
Join a book club together, take the same art class, or work for a common cause by volunteering for a charity that you both want to support. Visit MyForesters to find out about volunteer opportunities in your area that your whole family can attend together.
5. Talk to a lawyer or your financial planner
A professional can help you determine what you can afford, and how to sort out any legal or tax issues related to caring for a senior dependent and receiving rent or other payments from that parent.
Remember that as a Foresters Financial member you have access to Everyday Money, our toll-free financial helpline that connects you to an accredited counselor who can help answer your questions about personal financial matters.
You also have access to Legal Link, which allows you to consult with a local legal professional for help with a variety of issues including wills, estate planning, and home ownership all at a reduced cost.
Welcoming mom or dad into your home can be a rewarding experience, particularly when you’ve thought it through very carefully and planned in advance to ensure that your new living arrangements will be as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.
414940D CAN/US (05/17)