More Under One Roof
According to USA Today, US Census Bureau statistics released in September 2008 reveal a significant rise in the number of parents who live with adult heads of households. From 2000 to 2007 the number of parents living with their adult kids rose from from 2.2 to 3.6 million - an increase of 67%. The numbers indicate that 'old age' may not be the catalyst; 75% of those parents moving in are under 65, as compared to 62% 65 and older.
Impact of a Failing EconomyHaving mom come live with them is a win-win situation for many families. As the stock market tumbles and housing prices drop through the floor, the nest egg of financial security many aging parents have been counting on is suddenly gone. Greatly reduced home resale values and dwindling investment portfolios have pulled the retirement cushion out from under seniors who can no longer afford to buy into independent living communities. On the other end, adult children who are seeing cutbacks and job losses may be struggling to make a go of it. By pooling financial resources with their parents and living in together in a single household, these families can make ends meet.
Present in Their Lives
But beyond the economic concerns there's a greater and more lasting benefit, and it's a human one. At a time of life when aging parents often become sidelined in their adult children's lives, making do with the occasional visit during the holidays or on special occasions, they reintegrate into the family and become an essential part of daily life when they move in with their children and grandchildren.
Writing for AARP.org, senior vice president of outreach for Grandparents.com Amy Goyer ticks off the benefits:
Children get some extra-special attention from loving adults....people who [grow] up with grandparents living in their homes seem to know them on a more personal level....[G]randparents tend to be central characters in these grandkids' life stories, as opposed to part of the peripheral supporting cast. A sense of generational responsibility and the importance of transferring knowledge across the generations are well ingrained. Family history and cultural heritage are constant companions to members of multigenerational households.
Older grandparents...can receive loving care from family members or closer supervision by caregivers outside the family. Quality of life is often better...because the older ones do not become isolated. The energy of all the life stages is around them, and they are more than observers.
Making it Work
This is not to say that 'mom moving in' immediately translates into a happy ending for all involved with no bumps in the road. Changes that accommodate her need for security, privacy, comfort, and independence have to be taken into consideration within the household. And since very few contemporary homes offer 'in-law suites,' often the plan to move mom in may require a home renovation or an addition.
Yet the temporary upheavals that are involved are small compared to what is gained - a deeper sense of family, an enduring connection between the generations, and a return to the 'family values' of loving, respecting, and honoring our elders as an integral part of our lives in their remaining years.
Goyer, Amy. "Grandma's in the house." AARP.org, January 2009.
Toppo, Greg and Anthony DeBarros. "More parents move in with kids." USA Today, 23 September 2008.