Should Your Mom or Dad Move In?

At first blush, it seems natural and logical for your aging parent or in-law to move in with you, right? You’ve got the room, you can afford to help support them and you’ve gotten along pretty well through the years.

But the decision to live together elevates the conversation and considerations to a whole new level. Things that never bothered you as a visitor in their home may cause you to go ballistic when they happen in yours.

Here’s a quick starter checklist that covers just a few of the issues associated with adding a senior citizen to the household.

  • Does your elder have a good relationship with your spouse? Are they comfortable being alone together without you as a buffer?
  • Does your elder entertain as frequently, and in the same style, as you do?
  • Does your elder hold the same views about smoking and social drinking?
  • Does your elder maintain the same standard of personal and household hygiene?
  • Does your elder like your pets…and do you like their pets, if any?
  • Does your home have a bathroom that can be safety-fitted for your elder and dedicated to their exclusive use?
  • Does your elder have a positive outlook on life that will uplift the family?
  • Does your elder have a stable medical situation that you are comfortable helping manage?
  • Does your elder pitch in and help out when they see someone or something that needs attention?
  • Do your children enjoy spending time with your elder?

We’re sure you can add to the list, but the basic math for a happy family calls for a majority of positive responses and a “yes” answer to any deal-breaking questions.

Adapted from The Daughter Trap: Taking Care of Mom and Dad…and You
[St. Martin’s Press 2010]

Author Laurel Kennedy has lived “The Daughter Trap,” caring for her aging parents. The former Evanston resident is founder of the multi-generational “thinking firm” Age Lessons and holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.