Are you considering asking your parent to move in with you and your family? It’s a huge move for all involved and there are many things to consider before you merge households. Here are 5 important questions to put on the table before you make the final decision.
1. Can we afford it? If your parent has healthcare needs that require remodeling–bathroom adjustments, for instance, the move can be a severe strain on your budget. There may be hidden costs you’re not anticipating as well: transportation, nursing care, additional food and personal expenses. The plus side is that much of the expense is tax deductible but look at costs carefully and decide beforehand who will pay for what. This is the perfect time to have a very frank discussion about finances with your parent.
2. Do we have the room? This one seems obvious – all you need is a guest room, right? Maybe not. If your parent is used to living in a their home alone or has hobbies and interests that require space, a small guest room might not be enough for them to be comfortable. You’re all making a big change and will need private space. Think carefully if that guest room is sufficient and if not, is there another space that can be carved out for mom or dad? Can you create a hobby room or sitting area for them in the basement? Could two small bedrooms be joined to create a larger suite?
If you’re lucky, you may have the budget to add on to your home and create a bona fide in-law suite for your parent. Some families even sell both parent and child’s home to buy a new one better suited to generational living. That’s probably the best case scenario when possible. If not, do your best to find enough space for your parent and as much of their personal furniture and keepsakes as possible. Remember, this will be their home too and incorporating some of their cherished items will make them feel welcome.
3. Does everyone get along? It may seem like a no-brainer but not all families get along swimmingly. If your spouse and your parent don’t like each other, do you really think that will change when you’re all living under the same roof? If there are big differences between a parent and child, it might be better to look at alternatives no matter how much you think you should invite them to live with you. At the very least, consider counseling beforehand to get a third party’s opinion on the differences and advice on how to proceed.
4. Does your community offer what your parent needs? If your parent will be moving from their city to yours, look carefully at your community to see if it will meet your parent’s needs. If they are used to a small town where they can walk to the local diner for breakfast every day, your rural location may be isolating for them or your big city too overwhelming. Planning ahead means you can anticipate the obstacles ahead of time and look at ways to solve problem before they occur. It’s going to be a big change no matter how much work you do ahead of time but a little preplanning can make it go a lot more smoothly.
5. What will we do if this doesn’t work? Of course you don’t want to consider that this may not work after all of your communication and planning. If it doesn’t what do you do next? Or, if your parent needs more care than you can provide, what are the options? Talk with your parent about what comes next and take some time to look at options. These aren’t decisions you want to make when your backs are against the wall. Having some resources available can be a sanity saver and give both you and your parent some peace of mind.