Multigenerational Families Under One Roof

Raziel Ungar

April 17th, 2012 - 2 min read
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About the Author: Terri Neill is a Principal and Director of Client Services for Senior Assist of the Peninsula with offices in Burlingame. The company provides in-home assistance for seniors from San Francisco to Palo Alto with caregivers who are company employees.  She is also a volunteer member of the San Mateo County Fall Prevention Task Force.

The recent housing crisis, a struggling economy and an aging population are creating more multigenerational households.  According to a recent AARP study, the increase of multigenerational households in the last two years exceeds the growth rate of the previous eight years combined!

Entering into this situation requires planning and flexibility to make the transition comfortable for all concerned.  It’s wise to have a plan in place before it is needed.

Parents’ Needs

  1. What are their needs today (if any)?  What is their functioning level?
  2. What are their anticipated needs?  Keep in mind hereditary factors.  For example, is there a history of dementia/Alzheimer’s in the family?   Or are they showing signs of arthritis that might cause more disability as they age.
  3. If assistance is needed, what can they financially sustain?  Do they have supplemental insurance such as long term care?
Family Involvement

It’s important to include siblings in the discussion of parents’ future needs.  Having everyone on board (in agreement on the decisions and choices made) is critical to the success of the plan.

If other family members are unwilling or unable to help, you may need to hire assistance to help with cooking, cleaning or care giving tasks.

Who pays for what?

Find out whether mom and dad will contribute financially to the household. If so, how much?  Learn about their insurance coverage; medical (including prescriptions), Medicare and long term care (if applicable).

Family Dynamics

Older adults moving in with their adult children and grandchildren will definitely impact the family’s lifestyle.  It changes the family dynamic and requires a policy of open and honest communication.  It’s best to set ground rules, boundaries and responsibilities for each family member.

Keeping Perspective

Consider creating a new budget that takes into account additional costs created by having more people in the household.  Don’t jeopardize your own retirement.   Consult with a financial planner to develop a strategy.

Positive Results

Undoubtedly this type of living situation will create stress during the transition period.  However, with time and good planning, the rewards gained will be…

  • Keeping an aging loved one safe
  • Saving money for both you and your parents
  • Closer ties between parents, children and grandchildren
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