Recently I was interviewed for an article about elderly parents moving in with their adult children. An odd topic I thought, unless you live in Japan where such an arrangement is common place. But here in Westchester County, NY? This geriatric care manager was perplexed. What did the journalist know that I didn’t?
The ah ha moment came quickly. People are living longer. Living longer means the chance of using up one’s assets becomes a greater possibility. Combine this with the current economic downturn and you have a compelling reason to write this article. Both adult children and their parents may be feeling the impact of this new economic frontier.
With this as background, I suggested to the writer that ten questions be posed. The answers will help to guide families in determining if such a move has the potential to succeed:
- Why are you as a family unit considering this move? Do you really want the move to occur? Does your parent really want to move in? What are the obstacles that could prevent a successful transition?
- What is your parent’s current routine? How easy will it be for them to adapt to a new routine? For you to adjust to their routine?
- Will their medical insurance be valid in a new state? What entitlements might they be eligible for? Is there a waiting period? Are there local doctors accepting new Medicare patients?
- Are there community activities a parent can participate in? What if their personality or physical limitations do not allow for activities outside the home?
- What sort of respite is available to you if a parent cannot be left alone? Are other family members close by or willing to travel to give you a weekend away? Will your parents accept outside care? Who will pay for it?
- Is your home handicapped accessible to the degree needed? If not, does the structure of your home allow for modification?
- If you have children at home, how will they deal with this new arrangement?
- What rules and boundaries have you and your parent mutually agreed to? Have payment arrangements been discussed?
- What are your parent’s medications? Have you been able to connect with their physicians to obtain a full understanding of their medical conditions?
- If you are no longer able to care for your parent what are the local alternatives?
So what this geriatric care manager thought of as an unusual article, was really a very timely topic. The three generation household just may be returning. Hopefully, it will be one of generation enriching generation.