For years, comedians have joked about young adults being "slackers" who move back home and mooch off their parents. During the 2008 Great Recession, an alarming number of college graduates who were unable to find jobs relocated to live — once again — with Mom and Dad, who often happened to be baby boomers.
Now, a decade later, a new trend is emerging among older parents who are moving into their children's homes for a variety of reasons. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2010, there was an 11% spike in shared households. As recently as 2014, 24% of Americans ages 85 and older lived in what is popularly termed "multigenerational family households," but back in 2006, that number was barely 20%. The fewest number of multigenerational households existed back in 1980, when they accounted for only 12% of American homes.
Based on practices ingrained earlier, elderly parents living with their adult children almost seemed to be an inevitable and totally natural part of family life — think "The Waltons." But according to Kathleen McGarry, a UCLA economist, the establishment of Social Security as part of the New Deal dramatically changed multigenerational-living patterns. Essentially, once older retired Americans were no longer financially dependent on their offspring, they chose to live independently. Geographically, this trend resulted in a dramatic increase of older populations in sunnier, warmer locales like Arizona and Florida.
Last year, Senior Helpers — a worldwide provider of in-home senior care — conducted a survey to better understand the complications that adult children face as their parents age. While 15% of the baby-boomer respondents said they would prefer their parents to age in a senior care facility, 20% reported that they want their parents to live with them instead.
Combining two adult households within a single home can be fraught with emotional and logistical complications. Below is a list of important factors that should be considered before making a drastic change in your - or your relatives' - housing situation:
— Health issues: Medication, doctor appointments, etc., need to be fully understood by all parties involved.
— Financial affairs should be mutually understood so that no one feels taken advantage of. Issues like medical directives, power of attorney, trusts and wills can be explained and ironed out with the help of a qualified elder law attorney.
— It's important to be on the lookout for potential problems like alcoholism, depression, increased frailty and memory loss.
— While it can be awkward at first for parents to move in with their adult children, the process can be made easier if both parties remember that familial love is at the base of all the necessary changes they will face.
Part two will include a list of talking points and questions to ask before making the big move.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.