Caring for elderly parents can be a challenging undertaking. Many adult children are torn between wanting to remain close to their aging parents and feeling overwhelmed by caregiving duties.
It's not unusual these days for our senior parents to live with us or for us to move in with them either temporarily or permanently. A growing number of families are choosing multi-generational living, not merely out of necessity but because of the sense of security and comfort it gives both generations.
Living with elderly parents offers many advantages that far outweigh potential disadvantages for many families. This article highlights the main benefits of having aging parents living with you.
Living Arrangements for Multi-generational Households
As a Home Health Physical Therapist, I have seen many different types of households in which seniors live with or near their grown children. Seniors can stay close to their families in various ways, such as living in the same home or a nearby residence, an in-law suite connected to the main household, or another house on the same property, such as an ADU, accessory dwelling unit.
Having multiple generations living together can be beneficial and is more likely to be successful if the move is voluntary. Moving out of necessity can be a highly stressful process for those involved, whether after a hospital stay or any other challenging situation.
Moving from one home to another, even when there is no emergency, can be difficult and physically exhausting. Taking the time to move in an organized manner before a crisis can help avoid complications.
Whether an elderly parent moves in with their adult child or vice versa can also determine the success of such a living arrangement.
History of Living with Aging Parents
Multi-generational households with three or more generations living in the same home are on the rise. Before World War II, it was common for elders to live with their adult children and grandchildren, mainly for financial, child-rearing, and caregiving reasons.
With increased senior wealth from Social Security, a desire for greater independence, and families living farther away from each other, multi-generational homes declined in popularity. But homes with multiple generations have had a resurgence in recent years, and the number is expected to grow.
Benefits of Living With Older Parents
Although living with older parents can have significant challenges, the positives often outweigh the negatives. Here are 15 great benefits of living with elderly parents.
1. Gain More Family Time
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of having your elderly parents live with you is seeing them often and the ability to spend more time together as a family. It also allows your children to interact and bond with their grandparents, strengthening the relationship.
2. Learn From Elders
Spending more quality time together as a family has another closely related benefit. There is a great deal to be learned from our elders, and they have much wisdom to share, especially with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Teaching children how to take good care of older loved ones is another beneficial lesson that will reap further rewards for yourself and your entire family in the future.
3. Rebuild the Family Unit
Many people trace society's current problems to the breakdown of the family unit. A multi-generational home helps to rebuild family connections, stressing the role of close relatives to support one another and allowing everyone to feel what it's like to be part of something bigger than oneself.
4. Build a Stronger Relationship
Whether you've had a closer relationship throughout your life or want to establish a stronger bond in your parent's later years, living together gives you that opportunity. If your older parent needs assistance, you can give back some of what they have given you throughout your life and grow or reestablish trust.
5. Provide Companionship
Older adults living alone or socially isolated are more likely to experience depression. One way to combat this is with a strong social network which is more readily available when aging parents live with an adult child or in a multi-generational household. Having more activity in the home provides beneficial mental stimulation for senior loved ones.
Companionship goes both ways, as the aging parent can provide valuable companionship to adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
6. Share Responsibilities
Medical advances and longer lifespans are creating more active seniors who want to participate more and not less during retirement. Having your aging parents around can make life easier if they are willing and able to help with tasks like cooking meals and doing laundry. Many grandparents provide child care and transport grandkids to school and activities, which is a huge source of assistance to busy parents.
7. Financial Savings
Living with older parents can be a great way to save money. By consolidating households, expenses can be reduced and shared. Some adult children support their parents financially. Alternatively, some older parents support adult children. Whatever the arrangement, by combining resources, there are possible ways to save on home expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, and insurance.
Living with senior parents instead of having them live in a retirement facility can be a great way to save money and provide them with the care they need. Due to the growing cost of retirement homes, many elderly people struggle to find affordable care. Having a multi-generational household may help families preserve retirement savings, allowing them to pass it down as an inheritance rather than spending it on costly senior living options.
8. Have a Greater Sense of Purpose
Studies have found that people who help others are happier too. Whether your aging parent needs a little or a lot of assistance, you'll have a greater sense of purpose as a caregiver.
Of course, in some situations, the older adult provides more assistance to their adult child than they are receiving. This also gives the senior an increased sense of purpose which is lacking for many folks during their retirement years.
The ability for both parents and children to help one another, possibly at different times and in different ways, benefits everyone involved.
9. Less Worry for Adult Children
Seeing parents on a routine basis may decrease worry for adult children. Acting as a surveillance system allows recognizing problems before they begin or become more significant.
10. Keep a Close Eye on Your Parent
Adult children are often shocked to see changes in their aging parents when they see them infrequently. Those who only see each other a few times a year on holidays may miss warning signs that could allow them to intervene before problems magnify.
By living with or near older parents, you can keep a closer eye on them and notice potential issues before they become full-blown problems. This could be anything such as difficulty walking, confusion, declining safety awareness or ability to care for themselves, and even becoming a victim of a senior scam. There are more opportunities to help keep track of your aging loved one when you observe them regularly.
11. Security for Senior Scams
Due to physical or cognitive limitations, older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation and fraud. They may need help understanding modern technology, making them more susceptible to scams. Protecting their rights and safety is essential, which is easier when you live with them.
12. Convenient Care
There are many benefits of keeping your aging parents nearby, but perhaps the greatest is making care more convenient. It simply makes life easier for everyone involved and often enhances both the mental health and physical health of your loved one.
The life expectancy of older people continues to increase. This means that many families are getting older together, with retired Baby Boomers still caring for their elderly parents. Sometimes the roles are reversed, and the aging parents care for their adult children.
13. Familiarity of Surroundings
Familiar environments help people deal with stress and maintain a healthy outlook on life. For seniors, familiarity is important because it offers a sense of security and stability. As such, it could potentially benefit those dealing with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It can also help prevent depression and loneliness among older adults.
As we age, our bodies change and become less able to do things like walk up stairs or climb ladders. So what happens when we need help? We call friends, relatives, and neighbors to come over and help out. Or maybe we ask someone to check on us every once in a while.
Caregiving is a rewarding job that allows family caregivers to provide high-quality care to their loved ones. The closer you live to your older parents, the easier it will be to provide that care, whether it's a ride to the doctor's office, picking up a prescription, or helping to keep them safe on stairs.
Supervision of Professional Caregivers
If the need arises for a higher level of care, an outside, professional caregiver, through a care agency, can be hired. Being close by allows you to monitor the care, actively advocate for your senior, and be an integral part of their care team.
Since in-home medical care will dominate healthcare in the future, you'll have a bird's eye view of what's going on with your loved one without needing to travel to and from their home. You'll also interact with healthcare professionals regularly, keeping up to date on any problems or changes. No need to waste time waiting for medical professionals to arrive for visits and procedures as you'll be close by.
14. Improve Quality of Life
Most adult children don't want to place their parents in a nursing home for good reason. Living with elderly parents can provide many benefits that can enrich the lives of both generations.
Quality of life encompasses various areas, many of which have been discussed. But the importance of health monitoring, nutritious meals, more opportunities for exercise, and social interaction go a long way to improving the quality of life for older adults.
15. Increase Health and Wellbeing
Seniors can benefit from a healthier lifestyle that includes regularly eating nutritious meals, participating in physical activity, and monitoring health. All of these factors are usually enhanced in multi-generational households. These activities help to keep elderly parents mobile and reduce the chance of developing chronic illnesses. These combined efforts help create an environment where older adults can remain active and healthy for longer.
Living With Aging Parents is Growing in Popularity
Living together is an increasingly popular trend for adult children and their elderly parents. Longer lifespans, concern about outliving retirement savings, and challenging economic times will continue to drive the multi-generational living movement. However, it's not for everyone. For adult children and aging parents whose living situation works out and who thrive in close proximity, living together can be a mutually beneficial arrangement with tangible rewards.
Optimizing your home environment makes multi-generational living easier for everyone. With the Retirement Independence Home Design Road Map, you can identify key home features and determine what needs to be added or modified to achieve the best home for older adults.