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When to Take Your Parent in to Live with You

Bigstock-Extended-Family-Relaxing-On-So-13907567People wonder if they should bring their aging parent to live with them. Typically, this issue comes up when one parent passes away. When that happens, the parent may remind the adult child of the promise he or she made some time ago that “you’ll never put me in one of those homes.” Most children agreed readily without much thought. But time changes things, says the Forbes article “Aging Parents and The Rise of the Multi-Generation Household.”The Dickensian concept of “being put in a home” is based on largely outdated ideas of poorhouses and debtors’ prisons. While perhaps a bit drastic, it may not be that far off for Depression-era kids who saw the treatment of seniors before Medicare and Medicaid provided some care. Some nursing homes are still found to violate government regulations, but most are decent, well managed and comfortable places to care for seniors who need a lot of attention for a multitude of medical needs. Licensed board and care homes may be another option for long-term care, usually at a lower cost than nursing homes. They don’t offer skilled nursing, but they do have a more intimate environment with a less institutional atmosphere.
It’s critical that parents make certain that any savings and investments won’t disqualify their child from means-tested government benefits, which can impact the parents’ ability to save for retirement. To avoid this, parents should ask an elder law or estate planning attorney to help them create a special needs trust. The assets held in the trust for the disabled person won’t affect his or her eligibility for government benefits.
Families who must address this question should look at how things might be in the future, both short and long term. Can family members manage a parent’s care needs—with more medical equipment and increasingly frequent trips to the doctor, therapy and the pharmacy for meds? An adult child has to assume increasing obligations to transport and accompany the parent to his or her appointments, advocate and care for the parent, and monitor the medications, diet and follow-through. This burden can become unbearable for some, and living with a parent and satisfying all of his or her care needs can be too great a task.
For some families with kids in the house and both parents working, it can be nice to have a grandparent there to babysit—if he or she is able. Also, if the older parent can help with the family chores, it’s great. As the grandparent ages, children can learn responsibility in helping to care for a dependent person, which can help them mature. Plus, the one household can make the best use of the aging parent’s assets. But this situation doesn’t always work out, and it isn’t for everyone. There can be tension from having an in-law in the house, and adoring grandchildren may grow into reluctant teens.
It’s good to have a backup plan in place now for the possibility that the caregiving responsibilities in the future will be too great and become too much for one primary caregiver. Care facilities have their place and may be the best option in some situations.
Reference: Forbes (July 7, 2016) “Aging Parents and The Rise of the Multi-Generation Household”

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