On paper, it makes sense. Supervision of an aging parent under the same roof saves money, time and energy that is usually wasted shuttling between two households. In practice, combining a parent’s life with an adult child’s requires careful planning and patience. Besides setting up the appropriate legal, financial and health care infrastructure for combined living arrangements there is the unspoken understanding that the relationship has permanently changed. The positives include the ability to spend more quality time together as well as staying on top of health care concerns. Trickier issues may center around financial obligations and caregiver burnout brought on by continuous, daily contact.
Here are some items to highlight before a parent moves in: What space and rooms will be occupied by the parent? Will the bathroom and kitchen be on the same level as the bedroom? Is the bathroom modifiable to accommodate a wheelchair and specialized shower/tub? Are there stairs leading to the space? Will noise be a problem for parent or child? Is there enough space for a healthcare aide? What are your spouse’s and children’s feelings about the move-in? If some of these items are not handled properly – there will be frustration for both parent and adult child. Having a suitable living environment will strengthen the move-in arrangement and allow everyone to better weather the storms that lie ahead.
Executing a health care proxy for the adult child to make health care decisions for a parent is necessary to ensure that EMT’s and hospital staff can communicate with the proper point person. End of life concerns are documented in living wills and physician executed MOLST forms under the direction of the aging parent. It is better to have end of life directions come from a parent instead of having the weight of such a decision fall on an adult child. Powers of attorney, Wills and Trusts govern asset planning and should be discussed and implemented either before or during the move-in transition.
Deciding what furniture or personal belongings could be brought into the shared residence is a conversation for everyone involved. An adult parent giving up a small, leased apartment to move in may not have much to worry about. An adult parent selling their 4,000 square foot house filled with a lifetime’s worth of accumulations may have a lot to worry about.
The last and most important question involves the parent’s health at the time of move-in. Are they moving in because they need care and if yes, who will be providing that care? Caregiving can fall to adult children, paid caregivers, home health aides covered under Medicaid or Long-Term Care Insurance, or a combination of these. An aging parent’s needs will increase over time and planning for long term care is a sensible step to ensure that there is financial protection to go along with beneficial home health care. Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today for more information.