When mom moves in: finances driving multi-generational families trend
By Catholic News Agency
As an uncertain economic climate continues to unnerve investors, more and more retirees are feeling the pinch, perhaps more acutely than any other demographic, and are making economically-driven housing decisions.
After a lifetime of saving and investing, some seniors are entering into their retirement with little financial solvency to show for their years of hard work.
For some, the issue is not financial but practical in nature; they simply cannot live on their own without full-time assistance, either from their families or from a professional service. And for families like John and Susan Hopko’s, elder care has become a uniquely personal matter.
The Hopkos probably never expected that their family might expand to a third generation so soon, but when John’s mother Wanda moved in with them after the death of her husband, that is precisely what happened.
For his family, John Hopko explains, the decision to invite mom to live with them was simply what had to be done.
“We started taking care of mom shortly after my dad passed away in 1993,” he said. “We brought her into our home within three months of our oldest daughter’s birth. There are difficulties, sure, but the good outweighs the bad. I couldn’t see mom in a nursing home, and the kids have never known life without her here.”
In generations past, and indeed today in many non-Western cultures, multi-generational domestic arrangements are not only common; they are the norm. It is not unusual to find three or even four generations of family members sharing one address, and there are benefits for all parties involved.
Dan Wieberg of Home Instead Senior Care, an international network of in-home senior care franchises, agrees.
“Recent Census Bureau data indicates that housing three generations underneath one roof is a growing trend,” he said. “Forty-three percent of families who are caring for seniors are actually sharing a home with that senior.”
Home Instead operates on a non-traditional model of senior care, sending professional caregivers into private homes to provide one on one non-medical services to elderly clients. For families concerned for the well-being of their aging parents, home-based care can be a preferable alternative to relocation to a nursing home or an assisted living facility.
While cohabitating with an elderly parent or relative can be a tremendously positive experience, it is not without its difficulties. A brochure produced by Home Instead titled “Too Close for Comfort?“ lists seven tips for happier multi-generational families, as developed by Matthew Kaplan, Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist. These tips include involving the whole family in deciding the living arrangements, setting expectations right away, focusing on family unity and keeping the lines of communication open.
It is important to ensure that seniors who share space with their children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a reasonable degree of autonomy and independence after the move.
For tips on integrating your family and other information on multi-generational living, visit HomeInstead.com and click on “resources” to view a compilation of free suggestions and statistics to help ensure domestic bliss.
Tips for Multi-Generational Families
1. Take a family partnership perspective. Everyone needs to be informed and to give input into the arrangements.