Sunday, September 2, 2012

Living with your Adult Children

While most of us cannot imagine living with our children as we age, it has become a reality for a growing number of senior citizens.  Sometimes, it is by choice.  The adult children look to their parents for help with baby sitting or similar assistance.  In other cases, it is because the senior citizens can no longer afford to support themselves on their meager retirement benefits.  Sometimes it is because they have developed dementia or health problems and the children take in their parents so they can care for them.  In some families it is normal for several generations to live together.  Whatever the reason, there are a number of issues you may need to consider before deciding if this is the right decision for you.

What If You Cannot Support Yourself as You Age?

In the last few years, my husband and I have known a few local retirees who had to move in with their adult children.  In every case, this was the last thing they ever expected to have happen in their later years. Apparently, this has actually become an increasing trend.  According to the AARP Bulletin for September 2012, in an article entitled, "When Parents Move In With Kids," as recently as 2011 there were 4.6 million parents living with an adult child.  This was a 13.7 percent increase from just three years earlier, in 2008.  The numbers continue to grow.

Since so many retirees lost substantial amounts of their savings during the 2007 recession, there have been increasing numbers of retirees who simply do not have enough money to live on their own.  Many of them also lost their homes to foreclosure.  If they were laid off during this period of time, they may have had to take Social Security early and, consequently, their income is not enough to cover their expenses.  In addition, they may have run through their savings or suffered substantial losses in the stock market.

Other Reasons You May Need to Live With Your Children

As mentioned above, there are also other reasons why retired senior citizens may find themselves living in their children's homes.  Sometimes it is their declining health which makes it difficult for them to care for themselves.  In other cases, it may be declining mental function. 

There can also be positive reasons why they might move in with a child.  For example, the child may want them to take care of the grandchildren.  In some families, it is common for the several generations to live together.  It can also make it possible for the families to purchase a home when the resources of two generations are combined.

Why a Written Agreement May Make the Transition Easier

When parents move in with their adult children, AARP recommends that the new living arrangement will be more comfortable for both the parents and their children if they set up a few ground rules in advance.  In fact, AARP suggests that both the parents and adult children write down the agreement, to avoid misunderstandings once you move in.  It may seem awkward to have a written agreement with your child; however, it could avoid a lot of problems in the future.  Listed below are some of the topics that you need to discuss and resolve in writing before you move in.  Feel free to add any other issues that concern you or your child.

Questions to Answer before Moving in with the Kids

How much will you contribute financially?
Who will pay for extra expenses such as a home healthcare aide?
Are you expected to help with chores, babysitting, running errands, etc.?
Will you travel with the family on vacation, and who will pay?
If you have a pet, can you bring it with you?
Will you have at least a private room and sitting area in their home?
Will there be a problem if you smoke or drink alcohol?
If you lose your driver's license, are they able to provide transportation for you?
If you pay your child for your care, what will the tax consequences be for them?
If you give them money, how will it affect Medicaid if you need a nursing home later?
If you purchase a new home with your child, what future problems could this cause?
If you have other children, will this living arrangement affect your will?
Will your other children have you stay in their homes periodically?
What social activities will there be for you to do?
If you are single, will it make your child uncomfortable if you date?
How do they feel about overnight guests, especially a boyfriend or girlfriend?
If your adult child is single, how will you feel about them bringing home dates for the night?

Seeking Professional Help before Living with Adult Children

As you can see, you may need professional help in order to answer some of these questions.  Check with an elder care lawyer or financial planner in order to help you both make the best decisions for your family.  If you have difficulty reaching agreement on some of these topics, don't simply move in and expect that everything will work out. 

You may also need to consult a family therapist to resolve issues that could cause stress in your relationship.  For example, does your adult child want you keep your mouth shut when it comes to the way they are raising their kids?  Are you willing to do that?  If you think that might be hard for you, then you may need to seek a different place to live.  After all, you are moving in with their family, and you want to create as few problems as possible.

Alternatives to Living With Your Children

You may not have considered alternatives to living with your adult children.  If you have financial issues, you may qualify for a senior apartment at an affordable price or a Section 8 voucher that will pay part of your rent.  You may also be qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or food stamps and help with your Medicare premiums.  With a little financial assistance, you may be able to maintain your privacy and continue to live on your own.

If you have mental or medical issues that mean you need assisted living, you may be able to apply for Medicaid to get your expenses covered in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, including one for memory loss.  This would relieve your children of the burden of caring for you and would be safer than being left alone while your adult children go to work.

Remember:  If you are hesitant about moving in with your adult children for any reason, seek help from your local Social Security and Social Service offices.  They can let you know what services you are eligible to receive.

If you need more information to help you get the retirement help you need, use the tabs or scroll-down list at the top of this page.  They contain links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, medical information, financial planning, or changing family relationships.

You may also be interested in reading:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
Retiring Former Hippies Spark a New Generation Gap
Cheap Places to Retire
Best Places to Retire in the United States on $100 a Day
Part-time Retirement Jobs for Baby Boomers

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo courtesy of photoxpress.com

3 comments:

  1. Wow. This can be a very sensitive topic for families. You've presented many important issues that should be addressed and ironically some of them are the same issues that should be discussed when adult children remain in their parents homes long after college due to financial problems, something that is happening more and more.

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  2. Domestic Diva, you are absolutely right that several of these same questions should be addressed when adult children move back in with their parents. It is always a good idea to have a written agreement in advance.

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