Many members of the “sandwich generation”–a group loosely defined as people in their 40s to 60s who are “sandwiched” between caring for their own children and aging parents–find themselves in the position of raising a family and looking after the needs of aging parents. If the time has come when you and your parents think that it may be in their best interest to live with you, you should discuss the implications and how it will impact your entire family.
Your first topic should be to have all your family members share their expectations for living together. No doubt your parents will want to feel part of your household. However, you’ll want to know how much they want to participate in day-to-day activities in your home. For example, if able, would they be willing to take on some responsibilities, such as babysitting and transporting kids to school or other activities? Will they participate in other family activities, such as meals and social events?
Next, consider whether your home can properly accommodate your parents. Do you have adequate privacy/space for your parents, or will you need to remodel or renovate an existing area of your home? Will your parents be able to move around your home easily, or do you need to install appropriate safety devices? Common modifications and repairs for aging family members may include grab bars in bathrooms, an automatic chair lift for stairs, and a ramp for wheelchair access.
You will also need to explore the financial impact. Will your parents contribute to household expenses, or will you cover their portion? Do they have enough money to help support themselves during their retirement? If not, will you be able to support them financially?
While having multiple generations living together in the same home can be a rewarding experience, it can also be challenging at times. As a result, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between you, your spouse, your children, and your parents. Doing so can help ensure a happy and healthy home environment for your entire multigenerational family.