Welcoming your senior parents to live with you can have a fantastic influence on family life and your own peace of mind: the kids get to spend more time with their grandparents, grandparents have someone to look after them, and you no longer have to worry that your parents feel lonely or neglected. From a financial standpoint, building a granny annexe is also more affordable compared to other housing options so, drawing the line, multigenerational living is good for everyone.
And yet, annexe living comes with significant lifestyle changes, and it might not always be easy to adapt on the fly. To make the transition as smooth as possible and ensure that multigenerational living is harmonious for everyone, you have to prepare in advance.
Acknowledge your parents’ need for support…
When senior parents move back in, it’s usually because they have reached an age where they can no longer look after themselves, or they have a certain health condition that requires monitoring. Understanding your parents’ medical and lifestyle requirements is key before they move in because based on them, you will determine what home features to buy, what activities to plan, and how to divide your schedule. For example, if one parent is still physically strong, but their cognitive skills have diminished, they will need different caretaking than if they lacked physical strength, but were mentally sharp.
… but respect their independence
Just because your parents will live with you in an annexe, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are no longer independent – at least to a degree allowed by their health. Your parents may want to continue their old lifestyle. They’ll want to receive guests, decorate their annexe as they see fit, and do their own routine. Unless it’s absolutely essential for their health to be monitored constantly, allow them some personal space. It’s important for their self-esteem and overall mental health.
Your expectations of your parents moving back in may be different to their own so, to avoid misunderstandings, establish some ground rules. Some of the most important topics to address include:
- Who will be in charge of cooking?
- Will you cover all the bills or will your parents contribute too?
- Who will buy groceries?
- What tasks will you have to take on? (i.e., helping parents take their meds, go to doctor’s appointments, get dressed)
When establishing these ground rules, you should first and foremost be mindful of your parents’ medical needs. If they are physically unable to do a certain task, then you shouldn’t allow them to do it – no matter how much they insist. But, at the same time, be kind to yourself too, and factor in your limits.
Striking a balance.
Family life can be filled with beautiful moments, but it can also be tough. When parents move back in, you become the caregiver, and that can come with additional stress. You might have to cancel plans, grow your tolerance threshold, and be ready for the unexpected. Conflicts may also arise, and that’s totally normal. The occasional argument doesn’t mean you do not love each other. It’s just a part of family life, so try to handle them by being patient and communicative.
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