If you are part of the Sandwich generation, a group of individuals between 40-50.  You are probably taking care of your minor children and an elderly or disabled family member.  Current statistics estimate that “47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s are supporting an aging parent in their 70s while also managing their kids.”  Due to economic pressures and longer life spans, intergenerational households are becoming more common.  According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the number of parents living with their adult children increased by over 64 percent even in the years before the 2008 recession.

   There can be drawbacks and benefits to having grandparents and grandchildren sharing one roof.  While every family is different, and your concerns may be unique, today’s post is meant to help address the many issues involved when you become a caregiver for an elderly or disabled family member.

Financial and Logistical Factors

  1. If feasible, pool your resources.  For example, with a combined household income, you might be able to afford a bigger house or a more convenient neighborhood.  The extra amenities will make the adjustment easier.

  2. Hire an attorney.  Consulting a lawyer about family matters does not have to be awkward.  Think of it as protecting your assets and preventing conflicts.  In addition, written agreements can make final estate settlements much smoother.

  3. If possible, create a rental agreement.  Your parent or disabled relative may be willing to help cover expenses.  Then, decide how you’re going to divide costs for housing, food, and other budget items, or simply charge them a flat rate that is fair and comparable to the amenities you are offering.

  4. Help with the paperwork.  Many seniors are computer savvy, but you should be ready to pitch in with some research and documentation for insurance claims and other services.  Plus, sifting through boxes and files now will help you put things in order while your relative is still alive.

  5. Create a family budget.  Caregiving can be expensive.  Ask yourself how you feel about cutting back on vacations or dipping into your own savings to assist with your parent’s bills or take care of the added expense of bringing another adult into your home.

  6. Adapt your home.  Many renovations make life simpler for seniors with limited mobility or other concerns.  Consider electric stairlifts or grab bars in the bathroom to prevent falls.  Contact

  7. Plan ahead.  In addition to solving today’s challenges, consider what your parent’s condition will be like 5 or 15 years down the road.  Then, be realistic about how much you can do on your own to care for them.

Emotional and Social Factors

  1. Assess your relationships.  Living together may draw you closer together if you already get along well.  On the other hand, a history of significant conflicts may indicate that you and your parents would be better off making further arrangements.

  2. Create ground rules.  Look for ways to maximize your parent’s independence and everyone’s privacy.  For example, clarify expectations about mealtimes, noise levels, and housework.

  3. Involve your children.  While living with grandparents creates terrific opportunities for bonding and developing compassion, there are challenges too.  Spend one-on-one time with your sons and daughters, especially if they’re giving up their bedrooms or a portion of your daily attention.

  4. Take care of yourself.  Remember to nurture yourself and your marriage while taking on other responsibilities.  For example, date nights may be easier if you count on your parents instead of looking for a babysitter.  If that is not possible, think about hiring someone, even if it is only for a couple of hours.

  5. Encourage socializing.  Staying engaged is vital for your parent’s wellbeing, and it will take some of the pressure off you.  Check out the senior neighborhood centers and cultural programs.

  6. Seek support.  Talk with your siblings about how to collaborate on paying your parents back for the love and guidance they gave you.  You can also find classes and support groups for caregivers through churches, local adult and family agencies, or organizations like the National Alliance for Caregiving.

     With all, what do you do when you are forced to take care of a relative that you are not fond of?  Perhaps that relative was abusive when you were younger, or maybe you just have no relationship with this individual?   Whether it’s a parent or another relative, the same tips would apply.  It might also be helpful to pay close attention to establishing a self-care routine and support system that nourishes you to reduce the inevitable level of stress and overwhelm.

   Think long and hard before you respond if your aging parent asks about moving in with you.  Be sure to include your children and your significant other if they are old enough.  If things do not work out, it can be tough to tell your mother that she will have to find somewhere else to live.  Careful planning and honest communication will help you decide on a plan that your family will be happy to live with.

With Peace and Love,

Renee

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