Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Little House on the Prairie, and Mama’s Family all have one thing in common: they portray many generations living together under one roof. Multigenerational living used to be the norm. From man’s earliest ancestors until sometime after World War II, living with grandparents was pretty much a given.
Multigenerational households declined steadily until recently. Today, according to Forbes, there are more than 60.5 million U.S. homes with three or more upward reaching branches of the family tree growing together to form one familial unit. Reasons for this vary but often it is the death of a parent that spurs an adult child to bring their surviving parent into their household. This, of course, requires a fair amount of work on everyone’s part, especially if your loved one has a home they need to sell. AMAC Foundation presents some tips that you should keep in mind during this time.
How Do You Know it’s Time?
There is no right answer to this question. Many older adults move in with their adult children following the loss of a spouse. It makes sense to do so immediately if the deceased spouse provided the majority of financial support for the household. Other indications that it’s time for a widow or widower to move in with adult children include loneliness, potential health problems and depression following their spouse’s death.
When it’s time to sell your parent’s home, it’s important to be familiar with its current market value. Selling a home also involves decluttering, deep cleaning, and hiring real estate professionals to handle showings and open houses. This will most likely be an emotional time for your parent, so ensure that you take their feelings into consideration throughout the process. You can use the funds to help cover medical bills, in-home assistance, or home modifications to support Mom or Dad.
Why a Parent Should Move in with Their Adult Children
There are a multitude of reasons that moving in with an aging parent or grandparent makes sense. Health considerations, including their ability to manage a home alone, are at the forefront of this list. Often, mobility issues and cognitive decline make it unsafe for the senior to live alone.
Assisted-living is not always an option as it’s cost prohibitive and may not offer the level of care an adult child wants for their parent. Even when the senior remains healthy, moving in with an adult child and grandchildren may have benefits. Curbed.com explains this type of arrangement makes it easier to provide care, allows young children to form close relationships with older family members, and helps everyone involved save money.
Buying a Home for Different Tastes and Needs
Deciding why and when to blend households isn’t the most challenging aspect of the situation. It’s remodeling a current home or, more likely, purchasing a new home to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Buying a new home to accommodate an extra family member typically means looking for a larger space and one designed to ensure the health and safety of all. Depending on the senior, it may be a single-family home with a detached living space where he or she can continue to be independent. Some families with college-age children choose to purchase a duplex or triplex property so each generation has a separate home but can remain together. If you’re able, you may want to test out different floor plans and living arrangements by temporarily renting homes in your area. You can search for properties in your budget with the ideal living space, move temporarily, and then find a similar property to buy. Of course, it will be an involved process, but testing out living options that make everyone happy will pay off in the long run.
Converting your garage into a livable space may be an option. It doesn’t require completely moving house, and in doing so you can add on the necessary accommodations. The garage is often a storage space filled with unused items rather than a place to store your car. Clear it out and convert it into a mini-home for your aging parent, complete with a bathroom, bedroom, and small sitting area.
A garage provides the framework needed for an extension, making it budget-friendly. Check with your local codes department before going this route, however, as there are safety measures and requirements that must be met in order to make the area liveable.
The process of moving an aging parent isn’t easy. But the ability to receive care and forge a closer relationship through multiple generations coupled with the financial benefits and a change of scenery may help the senior cope with the loss and live out their own final years surrounded by family.
Article specially written for amacfoundation.org by Donna Erickson, fitmemory.org