Too Close for Comfort? When Mom and Dad Move In
Local Company Launches Education Campaign to Address the Challenges
San Mateo County - When President Obama's mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, settled in with her family in Washington D.C. earlier this year, she became part of a growing national trend - seniors living under the same roof with at least one other generation. In 2000, 2.3 million older parents were living with their adult children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By contrast, in 2007, that number jumped 55 percent to 3.6 million.
"Several factors are driving this trend," said Martie Cruz, owner of the North and Central Peninsula offices of Home Instead Senior Care, a national franchise company providing in-home, non-medical care to seniors that conducted original research on the issue. "Certainly finances are an issue in today's economy, but we also see families coming together to share care giving duties and for emotional support."
While intergenerational living has its rewards, the challenges of living with Mom and Dad can be just as great. "According to our recent research, 72 percent of adults who have a senior living under their roof say caring for them has been rewarding," said Cruz. "On the other hand, the same percentage says they live too close to their loved ones and rate their stress as a five on a scale of one to five."
Forty-one percent of those surveyed by Home Instead Senior Care said the worst thing about being a caregiver is finding no time for themselves.
The challenges that can arise from combined households have prompted Home Instead Senior Care, a company serving Bay Area seniors in the north and central Peninsula regions, to launch a public education campaign to help families determine if living together is a good idea and provide tips on how to make such an arrangement work.
At the center of the campaign is a handbook that discusses the stress of care giving under one roof, adapting a home for two or more generations, merging household finances, and senior proofing your home for safety, she said.
The handbook was compiled with the assistance of three national experts: Matthew Kaplan Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist; Adriane Berg, CEO of Generation Bold; and Dan Bawden, founder of the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialists) program for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
A Web site www.makewayformom.com provides additional support and information, including a calculator that helps families compute and compare whether living together or maintaining separate residences is the best financial option.
In addition, the Web site features a virtual tour of an intergenerational home where visitors can hear from a real family and see firsthand how they"ve adapted their home.
Pen State's Matt Kaplan said that families should approach decisions of combining households from a partnership perspective. "Ask yourself, 'Can I get the whole family behind the idea"? he said. "When a decision is made to combine families, expectations must be set right away. Family members must listen and become engaged in conversation."
The more the entire family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas, said Kaplan. "Regardless of the reasons for combining households, the move is a big decision," said Cruz. "Some families may decide that maintaining separate residences is the best alternative."
For more about the emotional issues of intergenerational living, log on to www.makewayformom.com or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office at (650) 522-8009 for the free "Too Close for Comfort" handbook.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care's campaign including additional research results and an executive summary, log on to www.makewayformom.com. For interviews with local seniors and their adult children, and copies of the free "Too Close for Comfort" handbook, contact Martie Cruz at (650) 522-8009.
Surviving Your Parents' Move Home
Make the most of intergenerational living with these seven tips.
- Take a family partnership perspective. Everyone needs to be informed and ask for input about household arrangements.
- Set expectations right away. Avoid conflict by establishing each family member's roles and responsibilities upfront.
- Ask for help. Engage children in responsibilities around the home and make it clear to adult siblings that you want them to be involved. If extended family will not help with respite care, arrange for a professional caregiver service.
- Make family unity key. Strive for routines, rituals and traditions that bring the family together including family movie night or walks.
- Find threads of common interest to build deeper relationships. Focus on something very simple that seems to generate a common bond, such as ethnic cooking, family history, health or wellness.
- Keep lines of communication open. Recognize the importance of private time and family time for every member of the household.
- # Distinguish between private space and shared space. Shared space should be stocked with material inviting for all ages and items that could stimulate discussion, such as a child's project or "brag book" of photos. Make clear rules regarding the private spaces set aside for each member of the household.
For more about the emotional issues of intergenerational living, log on to www.makewayformom.com or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for the free "Too Close for Comfort" handbook.
Source: Home Instead Senior Care and Matthew Kaplan Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist.
Is Your Home a Safe Haven or Parent Trap?
Adult children who move a senior into their home should ensure that their loved ones are safe. Consider these quick fixes and affordable remodeling projects:
- Lower the peephole. Osteoporosis changes the height of some seniors, making it difficult for them to look through a door's peephole. Add an additional, lower peephole to your front door for about $40.
- Install outside shelves. Seniors coming to the front door with groceries or other packages can be at risk of dropping their merchandise or falling. Construct a shelf on the outside of the house on which to set keys and packages. Cost is about $75 including installation.
- Combine kitchen faucet and hose. Kitchen faucets with a pull-out spray hose nearby may be replaced with an all-in-one faucet and spray hose for easier use. A soap dispenser can then be placed in the hole that once held the spray hose. Cost for the improvement, about $350.
- Install commercial carpet. If replacing a family room carpet, select a low-pile commercial grade that is cheaper than conventional carpet, which can run $35 to $40 a square yard. Commercial carpet also is easier to keep clean and safer for walkers and wheelchairs.
- Create attic storage. Turn your attic into a store room for your senior's possessions by attaching plywood boards to attic floor beams. Cost of the remodel: about $2,000.
For room-by-room suggestions to make your home senior-friendly, log on to www.makewayformom.com or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for the free "Too Close for Comfort" handbook.
Source: Home Instead Senior Care and Dan Bawden, founder of Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS).
Financial Freedom or Household Headaches?
Managing household finances can be complicated when sharing a home with a senior parent. Following, from Adriane Berg, author of "How Not to Go Broke at 102!," CEO of the boomer consulting company Generation Bold, and a founder of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, are financial considerations:
- Compute the Costs. To do that, Home Instead Senior Care and Berg have created a calculator, located at www.makewayformom.com, which features 15 questions about your expenses and living habits. Answer those questions and the calculator computes the results to help you determine whether living separately or together is the best option.
- Share but beware. Share overhead costs such as heat and water, but beware of the tax implications of combining households. A tax adviser should be consulted before such a move.
- Keep money separate. Maintain separate bank accounts if the senior is of sound mind. Seniors who stay in control of their finances thrive.
- Consider care giving. While a healthy senior can serve as a grandchild"s caretaker, an unhealthy older adult will need care. That can be a disruption of a household as well as loss of work income. You must factor that into your budget.
- What about deductions? You may qualify for a dependency deduction for your older loved one if they"re living with you, however, seniors may lose a homeowner's deduction if they move out of their own home.
For more information and tips on the financial ramifications of intergenerational living, log on to www.makewayformom.com or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for the free "Too Close for Comfort" handbook
1. Survey Methodology: The Boomer Project (www.boomerproject.com) completed online interviews with 1,279 U.S. adult caregivers, ages 35-62, with a parent, stepparent or older relative for whom they or someone in their household provides cares. Of the 1,279 family caregivers interviewed, 548 live with the senior receiving care.
2. U.S. Census Bureau; online at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-mt_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_P027&-format=&-CONTEXT=dt
3. U.S. Census Bureau; online at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-mt_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G2000_B09016&-format=&-CONTEXT=dt