The still sluggish economy has led to a trend in inter-generational living among Westerners, who for most of the 20th century lived separately from their grown children and parents. Boomers are right in the thick of this trend, as they may be welcoming aging parents into their homes or even opting to move in with their adult children.
Here’s a guide to planning for such a move to ensure that all parties remain on good terms.
- Consider household modifications. If finances allow, all parties might benefit from the addition of a “mother-in-law” apartment for the parent moving in. If major home renovations are not feasible, be sure to add any updates that are necessary for an elderly parent’s safety, such as bars in the shower, sturdy banisters on staircases, and sufficient lighting in stairways and outdoor areas.
- Outline a budget and discuss expenses. Talking about money at the beginning of a joint living arrangement may not be comfortable, but it’s the best way to make sure everyone’s on the same page. After all, the sooner you know your aging parent’s financial status (or share yours with your children), the sooner everyone can make the lifestyle adjustments necessary to sustain the living arrangements in the long term.
- Discuss expectations for childcare and household chores. Assuming everyone living in the house is able-bodied, it’s reasonable to divide certain chores. If young children are part of the equation, parents and grandparents should discuss what their childcare duties are.
- Look into tax incentives for caregivers. If your elderly parent needs significant care, you may be able to claim him or her as a dependent and receive a break on your taxes. The rules are fairly involved, so spend some time looking them up or consulting with your accountant to determine what your options are.
- Keep the whole family involved. Often, the burden of care for an aging relative falls mostly on one child. Faraway siblings can contribute financially to a parent’s care (if necessary), but it’s the responsibility of the caretaker to keep track of expenses and request help.
Transitions—whether in your business or in your personal life—come with a number of special difficulties. Working through these transitions with close family members by your side can make them both more challenging and, luckily, more rewarding.