A recent article in U.S. News & World Report dealt with multi-generational households. While having older parents live with adult children or other relatives is not new, the recession has lead to an increase in multi-generational households. In 2008, there were 6.2 million multi-generational households. In 2010 that number went up to 7.1 million households. So, in other words, lots of people are occupying spare bedrooms.
While sharing space is a great way to reduce expenses and care for loved ones as they get older, it isn’t for everyone or every situation. There are some things to consider before different generations decided to share one roof.
Early birds vs. sleep till noon. Dinner is homemade and on the table at 6:00 p.m. sharp vs. Tuesday is Chinese Takeout Night. While the differences between the generation that fought in World War II and their Baby Boomer children have been mined for laughs on countless sitcoms, actually negotiating these differences is another story. Is it possible to work something out regarding meal times, living space, having guests over, etc?
Children in the House
If your adult child has a child, can you deal with childhood in the 21st century, with its regimented activities and numerous electronic games? Would you be willing to help with childcare, such as taking the child to and from school and helping with homework?
Who is Going to Pay for What?
While most seniors don’t have to pay rent when they move into an adult child’s home, an extra person means added utility and food costs. Who is going to pay for those expenses or are you willing to do service in lieu of fees? Also, there is healthcare to consider, since Medicare doesn’t pay for everything. Do you have supplemental insurance or has your adult child agreed to pay for whatever expenses Medicare doesn’t pay for?
Relationship with Adult Children
It is not just the practical aspects of living in someone else’s home that a person needs to think about, it is the emotional aspect that needs to be considered, as well. Many times the relationship between parents and adult children are strained. Can you put aside past differences and make the best of the situation? Also, you have to consider the relationship you have with your child’s spouse. Many times that relationship is strained to begin with. Imagine how much worse it can become living together under the same roof.
The above items highlight the need to work out a plan before packing up your things and moving to a son or daughter’s home. Yes, there are times when circumstances intervene, such as a sudden medical issue like a heart attack or broken hip, and it is not possible to plan ahead. Still, where planning ahead is possible, it is best to do so.
Working together to come up with a living arrangement that all of you can be comfortable with will go a long way in preventing any problems that come up when different generations live under the same roof. Of course, if you and your adult child can’t come up with a living arrangement that works for all parties concerned, then it is best to find other arrangements. Just because someone is your child, doesn’t mean that his or her home is the best place for you to live during your retirement years.