While the numbers of aging parents living with their adult children don't quite signify a trend, there is certainly a lot more interest in the arrangement than a decade ago. Part of the reason for this doubling up of households is the economy. It's cheaper for two families to live in one home than for each to have a separate home.
...For most families, the journey through the mine of elder care decisions falls somewhere between the two extremes. Elder care has a way of sneaking up on people. Generally, if there is an adult child living in the same town as the aging parents, it is this child who becomes, at the first sign of need, the default caregiver. That usually makes sense. You live in town.
As a caregiver for multiple elders – at one time I was providing some type of care to five elders in three locations, as well as caring for my children – I've received my share of criticism. There were those who felt that I should have provided for my elders in my home. Of course, these weren't people who knew my family's full situation. They were casual onlookers. Sidewalk superintendents, if you will.
Caregivers often find that many of their superficial friends drift away over time because the caregiver is too busy to have fun. These friends are not bad people. They simply don't know what to do to help the caregiver and they find it easier to share their time with people whose lives are less complicated. Are you this kind of friend?
For caregivers who are constantly on the run trying to meet the needs of their vulnerable loved one, paperwork can become what seems like an insurmountable burden. But paperwork comes with the job, especially if you have Power Of Attorney.
Dear Carol: My sister is the sole caregiver for our mother who has several health problems including early dementia. Our dad died about six months ago and it seems that mom is declining quickly. My brother and I would like to help, but we both live several hundred miles away from where Mom and our sister live. We would like to receive more frequent updates from our caregiving sister than we do.
It’s been nearly a decade since I began sharing my personal caregiving stories with the public, first via the book “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories” and later through a newspaper column, on my own blog and then contributing to major websites such as healthcentral.com.
When I first started sharing my stories and looking for others who had similar tales to tell, people tended to be reticent about speaking up. Now, sharing caregiver “in the trenches” stories has become a major part of caregiver self-care and even survival.
Because of my long Internet history, I’m often interviewed in print and on radio. A recent radio interview on a show called “Doing What Works,” hosted by Maureen Anderson, touched on many topics that I’ve written about for Healthcentral.com over time, so I’m sharing links to those stories here for those who want to dig deeper.
...My parents built a house that would accommodate the different generations, with some privacy for all, and Grandma came to live with us. The home wasn't huge by today's standards, but it was nice and well designed for our needs. The arrangement worked.
...Being human, I suppose we all second guess others to some degree, at least in our thoughts. However, when we do that, we should have a way of reminding ourselves that we don't have the same life situation as the person we may be criticizing.
The reality is that when it comes to assisted living, most families pay their own way. If the adult children have the resources, many times they will help out if their parents don't have enough income. This, of course, can cause issues within the extended family context, especially if some siblings are wealthier than others. How do families decide whether or not the children financially contribute to their parents' care, and if they do, who pays how much?