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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. Are there community activities a parent can participate in? What if their personality or physical limitations do not allow for activities outside the home?
  5. 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?
  6. Is your home handicapped accessible to the degree needed? If not, does the structure of your home allow for modification?
  7. If you have children at home, how will they deal with this new arrangement?
  8. What rules and boundaries have you and your parent mutually agreed to? Have payment arrangements been discussed?
  9. What are your parent’s medications?  Have you been able to connect with their physicians to obtain a full understanding of their medical conditions?
  10. 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.