The Life Transition Blog

Your Aging Parent: Your New Roommate?

There is a terrific article in the May 25, 2009 issue of Forbes, "How To Set Up A Multi-Generational Household." The author, Ashlea Ebeling, writes, "One of the side effects of the economic contraction is that Americans are about to rediscover the virtues of three-generation households. This is how families used to take care of their oldest members before that newfangled invention, the retirement home, arrived on the scene." The article contains an excellent guide to how to "do it right" if you plan to have a multi-generational household, covering zoning laws, space planning, ownership/estate planning/tax issues. Perhaps most important of all, there is a brief discussion regarding "expectations."

While I agree that all of the other important matters must be discussed and dealt with, we all know that how well it will actually work out to have Mom or Dad (or your adult kids for that matter) as your roommate depends on the baggage that each player brings to the party. Are you expecting Grandma to be the built-in babysitter? Is Pop assuming that you are going to spend every Sunday hunting or fishing with him? It is so important to talk about all of this ahead of time, and if you know in your heart it is going to damage relationships by moving in together, then it is wise to acknowledge that up front and try to find another solution. The last thing you want to do is sacrafice quality relationships with your family for what may be short-term economic gains. Like the Mastercard commercial says, "Family... priceless".

If you have crafted a family transition plan, now might be a good time to revisit it and consider the alternative of establishing a multi-generational household under some conditions. If you haven't put your family transition plan together, well, can you think of a better time? If you're not sure where to start, give me a call. I can help, and the initial consultation is no charge.

Have you lived in a multi-generational household as an adult? Have you considered it? Let us know what you think.
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