Are you contemplating moving several generations under one roof? If you’re already living the intergenerational life, perhaps your family has encountered a few challenges. Regardless of the situation, you or your senior loved ones probably have many questions, such as:
•Is it best financially to maintain separate residences or to move in together?
•Do you have the resources to take care of your elderly loved one in your home?
•Are there young children at home? If so, what do they think about it?
•Should you move Mom or Dad to your home, or should you move into theirs?
•Is the home safe for a senior and, if not, what changes need to be made?
• How do you handle separate bank and savings accounts, and joint expenses?
•What role will adult siblings play?
•Will you need caregiving help for your senior?
•How do you balance family time and private time?
•If you’re an older adult, will you lose your independence?
Communication is the key to making your combined family work, says Matthew Kaplan Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist. “Families must address the issues at hand — from multiple perspectives — when they arise...Ask yourself, ‘What can we do to come together and figure things out?’”
Even with the best intentions, changes in family dynamics can lead to conflicts. Planning ahead with sibling and family agreements can help. If you’ve combined households or if you’re considering such a plan, several agreements may benefit you and your family. See your elder law attorney for more information about sibling and family agreements. The following information is from the book How Not to Go Broke at 102! by Adriane Berg.
Sibling support agreements:
Some families choose to enter into a sibling support agreement, a contract that outlines the support responsibility of adult children in several situations, including when a parent comes to live with them. The written agreement specifies who pays for what, who manages separate bills, who has access to assets and income, whose name is on the deed and who will inherit joint property.
An advancement clause is an agreement used by senior parents to ensure that money and property given to the caretaker is deducted from their inheritance. This document can help keep financial interactions between senior parents and adult children out in the open.
Personal care contracts:
In some situations, families choose to enter into a personal care contract, which stipulates that the adult child providing care to her senior relative for life will receive a lump sum payment upon the senior’s passing. The purpose of this contract is to keep the senior at home or with the caretaker, and give the caretaker incentive to give maximum effort without fear that another family member will contest the payment as a gift under duress.
It is a good idea to meet with an elder law attorney to answer any legal questions adult children may have regarding sibling and family agreements.
Most people don’t think about the hazards a typical home can hold for an older adult, but the dangers can become frighteningly evident after a senior moves in.
Adult children who move a senior into their homes, or who choose to move into a senior’s home, should ensure that the living space is safe.
Dan Bawden is a remodeling contractor and the founder of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders. He owns Legal Eagle Contractors, Co. in Houston TX, a firm that specializes in accessible construction and universal design. He offers some concerns for bringing your senior loved one into your home, along with affordable and easy fixes. (Prices are “typical” but may vary somewhat by geographical area.)
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.