Your Money Financially Speaking
What if money problems force you to live with adult children?
When Parents Move In With Kids By Jane Bryant Quinn
You hear a lot about parents taking in adult children who are out of work. What’s much less noticed is the opposite trend—adult children taking in parents who
find it hard to make it on their own.
Their numbers are rising dramatically. In
2008, 4.05 million parents were living with an
adult child. By the end of 2011, the number had
risen to 4. 6 million—a 13. 7 percent increase. (I
was one of those adult children: My late mother-in-law lived with us for nine years.)
Most parents give up their own households reluctantly—usually because of frailty
or loneliness after the loss of a spouse. Increasingly, however, older people are going
broke. They might have lost a job in their late
50s or early 60s and run through their savings. And their children are their safety net.
Still, “it’s not a decision to
make quickly or in crisis,” says
Gregory French, president of the
National Academy of Elder Law
Attorneys. “Having good visits
with your children doesn’t nec-
essarily promise a good co-living
If you’re thinking of moving
in with one of your children, for
whatever reason, what are the
rules of the road? Three issues
are paramount: financial ar-
rangements, duties and privacy.
You will probably want to contribute something toward family
expenses, so discuss what’s best.
If you need personal care, will
you pay your child for it? Can
you afford a home health aide
if your child works? Everything
should be talked through and
written down, to avoid misunderstandings, French says. Your
child might be embarrassed to
ask for a written agreement, so
bring up the subject yourself.
French also suggests that you,
your child and the grandchildren
still at home discuss what might
happen during a typical week.
Consider meals, chores, TV use, daytime appointments, religious services, music, pets and
social activities (yours and your family’s). How
much do you want to help and what will your
child expect? Can you drive or will you need to
be driven? Will you go on family vacations? Do
you think your grandchildren aren’t being raised
well? (Warning! Think about whether or not you
can hold your peace.)
Some form of privacy is essential, says John
Graham, coauthor of Together Again: A Cre-
ative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Liv-
ing. You and your child’s
family each need a place
to retire to. Perhaps the
house could be renovated
to create a separate liv-
ing space, with bedroom,
sitting area, bath, microwave and refrigerator.
Even a single-bed sitting room with TV, good
light and a comfortable chair would help. If zon-
ing laws allow, you might build a cottage in the
backyard. Or you and your child might invest in
a larger house together.
Three issues are
Jane Bryant Quinn is a personal finance expert and author of ;Making the
Most of Your Money NOW. She writes
regularly for the Bulletin.