Nobody loves you like your children. They want the best for you, just like you’ve always wanted for them. But as you age, do you really want your children or grandchildren to be your caregivers? Is that the best option for your family? It’s a big ask and deserves careful consideration. Today would be a good time to begin a frank conversation about your future with your family. Let’s get started.
It’s a common refrain. “We’re family. We take care of each other. Mom and Dad took care of me. Of course, I should take care of them.”
But at this point in your life, as you age and your daily needs begin to change, how do you really feel about being cared for by a family member? In your heart of hearts, are you certain you want an adult child or grandchild to take care of you – to become your primary caregiver?
In the long term, who do you want to take care of you?
While two-thirds of us will actually need some long-term care after we reach age 65, only 35% of us believe we’ll need such care. That’s according to a comprehensive study by Genworth Financial and AgeWave, which also tells us that despite the importance of this topic, the vast majority of families haven’t talked about future care needs. In fact, 92% of those surveyed have never discussed key long-term care topics with their adult children.
Understanding the ask.
It’s important that everyone at the table understands one another’s expectations.
- Do your plans include staying put in your house and getting the daily support you need from a child or grandchild who lives nearby?
- Does your child want you to make a move and live in their city? Is moving to another city appealing to you?
- Do you think your children understand the challenges and difficulties of being a caregiver on a routine basis?
- Have you talked with other family caregivers about the emotional and physical stress that often accompanies taking on that role?
- Did you know that because of caregiver difficulties and demands, family caregivers often neglect their own well-being? They’re less likely to take preventive health steps, and more likely to miss their own doctor appointments, health screenings, exercise and a good night’s sleep.
How dependent do you want to be?
- Do you want your child to run errands, shop for groceries and prepare meals?
- How about housekeeping chores like laundry, dishes and cleaning?
- Do you want to count on your child for all your transportation?
- Are you comfortable asking your child to help you with everyday activities like bathing, dressing, toileting and changing an adult brief?
- Do you feel like your child has the knowledge and expertise to manage necessary medications, medical equipment and in-home screenings? Is that a responsibility you want them to shoulder?
- Is your child physically able to lift you?
What are the pros and cons of living with an adult child?
There’s a certain romance around intergenerational living. You can be around your children, perhaps even grandchildren, every day. You could share the cost of living, pool resources and gain the security of having family close at hand. But no matter how close and loving your relationship may be, you may not want to be around your family 24/7. No matter how large the house is, you’ll likely give up some privacy and change the family dynamic.
Before you think about moving in with family, consider these questions:
- Is the entire family excited about the idea? Spouses, partners, children?
- Will the house need renovation or additions – another bedroom, bathroom or private entrance? Who should foot the bill for those expenses?
- If you have other children, how will they react? Will sibling rivalry rear its head?
- If you don’t like household routines, family behaviors or the way things are done, will you be comfortable sharing your point of view?
Consider your options carefully.
You’ve likely been an empty nester for a while now. You’ve grown accustomed to living life the way you like it – creating your own schedule, eating when you prefer, spending time with friends and family on your own terms. Even though your adult child will want to honor your daily routines and lifestyle, their own family and work commitments are bound to make life a bit of a juggling act.
A balanced next step.
As you look forward to the next chapter of your life, look at all the options available to you. You might discover a choice that’s better than leaning on your children for assistance and care. Senior living communities are designed with you in mind. You can have your own private residence without all the hassles that come with owning a house. You’ll have a built-in social network with plenty to do, dining options and professional assistance at the ready should you ever need it – all at a price that may be more affordable than you think. And your children and grandchildren can visit as often as you like.
Have you had the talk?
Even if you feel your family wants to take on the role of adult children caring for parents, or feel they should, is it the ideal scenario for you? It’s an honest conversation you need to have. And the truth is, starting that conversation is most likely up to you.
A 2016 Care.com report found that 54% of adult children would rather talk to their kids about the birds and the bees than have a serious conversation with their parents about the need for care. So talk to your children. Together, you’ll make the decision that’s best for you and your family.
Learn more about your options. Join your family for a visit to a community near you. It might be just what you’re looking for.
- Our Family, Our Future: The Heart of Long Term Care Planning, Genworth Financial and AgeWave national examination, November 2010