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Are you and your elderly parent or in-law considering whether multi-generational living is the right solution for your family? A parent living with you can be very rewarding, but you do have some tough questions to consider.

Is an elderly parent or in-law rapidly moving towards the stage where they will be unable to live by themselves? Just a few generations ago, elders moved in with relatives of younger generations very commonly, but today, retirement homes have become the norm in much of the western world. Some families still do make this arrangement work. Indeed, for many of those who decide that multi-generational living is the answer to an elder's increasing care needs, living together turns out to be a valuable time for all involved, one that allows families to grow closer together. 

Having an elder move in with you and your family — and being responsible for a good portion of the care needs your elder has — is a very serious step that deserves careful consideration from all sides, however.

What questions should you contemplate emotionally, and into what areas do you need to do practical research, before an elderly parent moves in with you?

How Do You All Feel About The Idea Of Living Together?

The moment an elder moves in with you, all your lives will change forever. Before proceeding, it is a good idea to consider the feelings everyone involved in the potential household — you, your spouse, your children, and your elderly parent or in-law — have about the prospect of living together.

Providing that everyone gets along well and that all those involved have loving and respectful relationships with each other, multi-generational living can be extremely rewarding.

The elder may strongly prefer the thought of living with loved-ones to the realities of living in a retirement or nursing home. If you have children, living together offers unique opportunities for bonding, and the years of living with grandparents may prove to be some of the best ones of their lives. If your elder is still healthy enough to contribute to the family, you may end up with wonderful family recipes to pass on, with an in-built babysitter, and with a busy, love-filled household.

However, even if you all do get on like a house on fire, don't simply assume that living together will be smooth sailing. A permanent arrangement is nothing like the holidays you may have enjoyed together, after all. As time goes on, it is quite likely that all of you will miss the level of privacy you previously enjoyed, that a more crowded home will give you cabin fever, and that your children will be upset over, for instance, having needed to give up a room for a grandparent. 

In addition, elderly people, especially if they develop dementia, may indeed become quite different people to the parents and grandparents you previously knew. For the elder, who no longer has the energy they once had, living with teen grandchildren or hyperactive preschoolers may also prove to be a challenge. Take an honest look not just at the potential benefits, but also the downsides. 

Do You Have Clashing Personalities Or Habits?

Elderly parents raised you or your spouse, but once they move in with you, they'll be on your turf, creating a radical shift in the balance of power — a shift that can be uncomfortable for all. As an adult with a family of your own, you obviously have a set of house rules or habits, and those often differ from those your parent or in-law was used to.

Attitudes towards raising children, habits like TV watching, smoking or drinking, and levels of cleanliness and organization within the household, can all turn into black holes of resentment on all sides. Think about this, too, and have many discussions about it before you make the move.
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