Sharing a House with Aging Parents
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Mom moving in with my sister - how do we compensate her?
- Rent a larger home for MIL, and keep our smaller one?
- We moved in with my mother-in-law; seems like a bad idea now
- My parents, in debt, want to move in with us
- Elderly father moving in
- My husband wants his mother to move in with us
- Help dealing with cantankerous elderly parents who live with us
My 89 year old mother can't continue to live alone. One of my sisters has offered to share her home with Mother but wants to be compensated for providing room, board, time, attention, and other sacrifices she will undoubtedly need to make. All siblings are in agreement but want to be sure we can pass a significant amount of money to custodial sister without running into legal or tax difficulties. We also do not want to ''hire'' our sister and become her employer. Has anyone else solved this problem? We have consulted a lawyer and a tax advisor and neither of them came up with a real solution for us. Thanks very much for sharing ideas. sandwich generation
I think Family Caregiver Alliance can be a great resource for you. Call 1-800-445-8106. You'll most likely get a human being who knows what they're talking about and/or guide you to resource. Also, they'll know your local support group which might be a good way to get feedback. Monica
We have a similar situation. My M-I-L recently fell at her home. The Dr.s say she had some minor strokes that may have caused the fall. She did not break anything but is not able to take care of herself any longer. If she stays in the assisted living place it will cost approx. $5K or more per month. If we bring her into our home we will need some in home care to help with her care. My husband feels comfortable in using her savings to pay for the home care and reimburse our household for costs up to the $5K per month that they would be paying if she is in an assisted living facility. He says he would do the same for his sisters if either of them would offer to take her into their homes... but so far they are not offering just leaving it up to him to care for her. I just recently saw how much time and effort it takes to care for an aging-ill parent, my mom, before she died. It is a huge undertaking of both time and money. You should be thankful your sister is offering to take your mother under her roof and be glad to help with the costs. She will never receive enough to compensate for what it takes; physically, emotionally, financially. Grateful
Not sure what I am missing here because I am a little dismayed that your advisors have not informed you that you can give anyone up to $13,000 per year without any tax issues. This means that you and your siblings can give this amount each and so may any spouses. If your sister is married, you and the siblings and spouses can also give up to this amount each to your sisters spouse. Your mother's estate can do the same. If your mother has no assets, then you could also gift to your mother in order for her to pay her direct living expenses. But then again this is probably not the right forum for this kind of advise. anon
I'm looking for other's experience as well as financial solutions for caring for elderly parents. My mother in law wants to live with us and we want this to happen as well. The problem is that our current home is inaccessible as well as we don't have the space. We have a two bedroom home with a child and are up two flights of stairs. We were looking to buy another home and sell our current home or rent a larger home in our community so that our child could continue in the current school district. The problem with renting another home is that we will likely only get a year lease and in our community rentals are competitive and we have specific needs--virtually a level in home is necessary as my mother-in-law walks only with a walker. This means that in order to guarantee that our child continues in the same school district, we can't sell our home--as there is uncertainty regarding a rental longer than a year. Either way we need help from my mother in law to do this. She requires a lot of care and we will need approximately 40 hours of hired care per week while we are at work and we will provide the care in the evenings and at night. If we didn't need to keep our home we could put our current mortgage payment towards the rent of a larger home. We don't really think our delicate 90 year old home it is a good rental.
We therefore were wondering if it is fair to have my mother in law rent the larger home and we will pay for utilities and food and make sure that her care is always covered--she will pay for the 40 hours of care a week, but we will make sure there is always someone with her and my husband and I will be responsible for the other 128 hours of care per week. My mother in law has been at assisted living since her husband of over 50 years passed away last year. However, she has eaten all her meals in her room by herself except when we are able to come over. My husband visits my mother in law every night on the way home from work pushing our family dinner back to an absurd hour. His daily visit is necessary as there have been a number of mishaps at this very expensive top of the line assisted living place and we want to take better care of my mother in law than this. Anyone with a similar experience, and/or creative solutions or ideas, we'd welcome your advice. This is a dilemma that we need help with. Thank you very much. sandwich generation
I think there is no problem with having her rent the bigger house. These kinds of arrangements where the elder provides the housing so that everyone gets what they need is typical. The value of having you close and mitigating the isolation justifies the expense for her in my opinion. Isolation is a very serious problem for seniors. You are truly in a sandwich situation trying to meet everyone's needs. I applaud you for that. Elizabeth
I am hoping someone will have some great ideas about managing the increasingly difficult relationships with my nearly 80 year old mother-in-law, with whom my husband, daughter and I live. We recently moved into my mother-in-law's house with the intent of helping care for her. She has emphysema, lives in a somewhat isolated area and suffers some of the expected difficulties that come with aging (can't do some of the larger household tasks like taking out the trash, feels vulnerable, is hard of hearing, is losing some cognitive function).
Now that we are living here, it seems like a bad idea, but one that would be difficult to extract ourselves from. In the few months we have been living with her, it has become increasingly clear that my mother-in-law needs the extra care we are providing. But her impact on us (me?) is exhausting. I am having difficulty with the lack of my own living space. We are in my mother-in-law's house, so it is her domain, and I find myself living almost exclusively out of my bedroom. I have worked on my own patience, on appreciating my mother-in-law while she is still here, on understanding the vulnerabilities and difficulties of aging, but I\x92m starting to feel like The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
My mother-in-law is also having a difficult time with our 5 year old, who is probably much more energetic and emotionally capricious than she remembers children being. Nana loses her temper easily, doesn\x92t hear or misunderstands much of what her granddaughter says, and although my daughter loves her grandmother, she is sometimes direct about \x93wanting a break from Nana.\x94 We have tried to make sure Nana knows she has license to correct behaviors and give consequences (although she sometimes just yells). We have worked with my daughter about being patient with her Nana, and we have discouraged Nana from taking too personally the ever- changing moods of her granddaughter.
I\x92m not sure what to do. I feel like we made a commitment that we shouldn\x92t back out of, and that is good for Nana, but is doing me in. Any advice would be most welcome! Thanks. Stephanie
Maybe Grandma wants you out too! She might have bitten off more then she can chew having you move in....Is it possible you can live nearby and help her daily and you each have your own space? Can she/you afford to have help come in? And lastly...would she be willing to move to a retirement or assisted living residence?
I can tell you it will only get more difficult as she gets older and if she has longevity in her genes she could live a long life.You said some of her cognitive functions are going which tells me that will increase slowly over time. My mom just passed away in April at age 94. She started losing her memory at about 90 or so. It was a sad and frustrating downhill path from there. Fortunately for me and my brother (and her) she lived in a retirement residence where she went from independant living to assisted living to nursing care (she was there for 7 years).
Money is certainly a concertn when making a switch from living at home to a place like that but your sanity is also a priority. EVen if you stay there and live with her, have a talk with her and find out how she wants it to be. Is there a way to separate the house somewhat so you each have your separate spaces? Can you hire someone to come in and help even if you are there? Good luck. You're a brave woman. This is a big undertaking. anon
I feel for you. Would it be possible for you to get your own apartment nearby? You could still spend the day with your mother-in-law, but it would help a lot I would think to have your own place to retreat to when you need to. It could be that nana is finding she needs her own space too sometimes. Good luck. I hope it works out. You are a really good person for taking this responsibility on. -anon
Consider encouraging your mother-in-law to participate in the Alzheimer's program on Channing in Berkeley for socialization with others. Goal: to broaden her focus, lift her spirits BEYOND the immmediate family. This is the trend to help maintain elders at home as they age. 1) engages the elder 2) provides respite for the family members. In addition, although you did not establish some guidelines prior to moving in, you certainly can discuss your needs and hers since she seems to have cognitive function enough to do so. If you need mediation or facilitation: you can invite a geriatric care manager to assist. National Association of Geriatric Care Managers on the web for local referrals. Mark
Being a caregiver to a family member can suck the life out of you!! It is one of these things that is expected of you to take on as a family member, however, there is very little acknowledgement and information out there about how to do it without it adversely affecting your health, sanity, work, hobbies, friends, etc... Being a caregiver to someone with a chronic condition requires a different approach than caring for someone who is dying. A chronic illness such as emphysema can go on for many years. It is crucial to pace yourself and get help. There is a great organization called Family Caregiver Alliance that is based in SF and serves all counties in the Bay Area. You can call them for a consultation and/or referrals, as well as take advantage of their respite and educational programs. Their number is: (800) 445-8106. Their website is www.caregiver.org. They do not charge for most of their services. You dont have - and shouldnt - try to go at it alone. Good luck! Natasha
Ah, you and your family are in a difficult situation. I have two suggestions: the most important is to join a caregiver support group (even if it is online). The second suggestion I have is if your family can afford to pay for a caregiver either for a couple hours a week or a few hours a day so you and your family have a break from doing ''care duty.'' It will be vital to your sanity and your family's well-being to get some extra help in the house to take some of the burden off of you. I help this helps. Good luck~! amy
It is really tough to take on the responsibility of caring for parents as they age. I applaud you, your husband and your daughter for being so giving. While it is a hard situation, even under the best of circumstances, there are things you can do to help make the situation better. Sit down with your husband and talk candidly about what the long-term plan is for your mother-in-law's care. Will you be living with her and caring for her until her passing or is this a situation you will be living in until she becomes incapacitated? Are there other relatives who may be able to share some the responsibility for her care? Is an assisted living facility or home care attendant something you can afford or would consider down the line? I found that having a plan when it came to my stepfather's care was incredibly helpful in reminding me that the situation I was dealing with would not last forever.
I also encourage you to make time for yourself, your daughter and your husband. Schedule at least one weekend a month, if you can swing it, away from grandma -- or at least make it so that you don't have to be the primary caregiver for those two days. Work with your husband to carve out some space in the house -- even if it's over your mother in law's objections -- that belongs to your family.
Part of the upside of this situation is that your daughter and the rest of the family will be able to spend quality time with your mother-in-law before she passes away. You don't want your child's last memories of her grandmother to be shouting matches. Try to ID activities that your daughter and mother-in-law can enjoy together and encourage that -- even it's just watching Jeopardy every night. Then give your child space to be the 5 yo she is away from grandma. You may also want to look for a support group. Sometimes just having an hour or two to vent is needed.
Hang in there and remember that even when your mother-in-law can't or won't say it, I am sure she really does appreciate having you there. so grateful to have had that time
More and more of my clients are in this situation (the ''sandwich generation''). From your post, you seem very caring and concerned about your mother-in-law and your child, and are trying to do the best you can being a good wife, mother and a daughter-in-law. It might be helpful for you to have time for yourself, where you can work on what is best for you, so you can take care of the rest of your family and not burn out. Looking for a therapist is easy with the internet, try www.eastbaytherapist.org for local therapists.
I have not experienced the sam situation, but my sister lived in the same town with her father-in-law who had emphysema. I do know from her (and from my husband who has bad asthma) that a reduction in ones oxygen intake can drastically impact one's mood and level of patience and quickness to anger. So your lively 5 yr old in your mother-in-law's house with her fragile emphysemic temperment may be a very difficult mix for the duration. If you chose to stick with it, do so with a good understanding of how her condition is likely to progress. If I were you, I would find a counselor to help you, at least, if not your child and husband, too, through the duration of your time with your mother-in-law. Also, does your mother-in-law have an old dear friend or two who can come by and visit with her on a regular basis? Sounds like you will each need time off from the others in order to get through this time. It is truly wonderful that you are all doing your best to make this work. It can be very difficult work, and it sometimes is impossible, and another solution must be found. Anon
I suggest you consider your choices very carefully, since your mother in law may be around for quite a while still, and you probably want to make sure you have a sustainable healthy situation for all. I think you are entitled to make mistakes and reconsider your options, if something is not working, you should be able to find other ways to deal with it: hire help, provide help in withouth sharing the house, day facilities, nursing homes, etc.
Frontline has a documentary on care for elder people that is very insightful, titled ''Living Old,'' which you can watch online. The web page for the program lists many useful resources, too. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/livingold/view/ Good luck, EP
My mother in law recently moved to the East Bay, and although we are not living under the same roof, it's presenting new challenges for us. An older friend gave me the advice to have the situation looked at by a social workers. The social worker's job is to interview everyone in the household about how it's going and then to discuss the matter openly and nonjugementally. My friend said it was a huge relief to have someone asking the hard questions, and also to offer advice that made sense. I bet you could find referrals for social workers in your area from your doctor or your mother-in-law's doctor. thinking about it too
My parents, aged 57 and 67 have a lot of debt (somewhere between 80K and 120k) due to a failed restaurant business. They live in Miami. My mother has just found a job for $10 an hour but my father's English skills are not good and at his age, it is very hard to find work or even have the energy to work. We have lent them large sums of money and they have paid us back before their creditors by selling a peice of property. They own a condo with very little of it paid off and have a monthly mortgage of $840 a month, which is a good deal. They can't declare bankrupty because they paid me back instead of the creditors. We are in the process of moving to a very large home and my parents have begged me to let them stay with us. My husband is completely against this (and rightly so) because my father's personality is very difficult for me to be around without being very stressed!
I want to help. I feel it is my duty regardless to take them in. I have tried to find them credit counseling, housing, job help and other resources and am at a dead end. I have no more money to lend as they still owe me 5K and I am putting everything into my new house.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how I may help them without upseting them about not moving in with us? Sleepless
I'm sure this is not what you want to hear, but why did you buy such a big house if you don't want to share it with anyone? It seems awfully cold to not want your parent in your new, huge home, especially when they are in such a bad state. Even if your parents are not always that fun to be around (neither are mine, believe me) you could use the space to put some distance between you and them. I don't have any debt advice. Sorry. A
You obviously care very much for your parents or you wouldn't be asking for help. Your parents also care very much for you or they wouldn't have paid you before their creditors. In any event, it sounds like you not letting your parents live in your house is a good idea since your father doesn't get along with your husband.
However, if you were able to build an in-law unit on your property then maybe your parents could live there. They could sell their condominium and use the proceeds to pay for the construction of the unit. That way your parents could live on your property without them being in your house. Another possibility might be a reverse mortgage since your father is a senior citizen. Provided your parents continue to live in the condominium, the money from a reverse mortgage might pay off their debts and give them something to live on. Also, have you consulted an attorney in Florida to see if your parents might qualify for one of the chapters of bankruptcy? I know they paid you first before their creditors, but with some legal help, they still may qualify. Lastly, have you tried asking other family members if they might be willing to split some of the cost of helping your parents? Maybe you and another relative could put together a private loan or some other form of assistance? Since you have shouldered most of the financial burden up until now, it would be nice if some other family members helped out. I know it's difficult to ask relatives since family members not directly related often don't want to help and there's always the risk of alienating them, but then again it may be worth asking Anon
My mother died last week and I have had to move my frail, slightly senile (senile dementia and/or early stages of ALzheimer's) 79-year-old father into our North Oakland home from his home in rural Nevada.
My father is docile and does not require custodial (nursing) care, but he is very frail and absent-minded--forgetting what he has said or done from one minute to the next; he was utterly dependent on the company, care, and supervision of my mother. He is somewhat lost at the moment, not only because he has lost his wife of 58 years but also his home and familiar routines. Rightly or wrongly, my husband and I believe that placement in an assisted living situation right now would be devastating. He needs someone to be available to him, make him lunch, and generally ''keep an eye'' on him while he adjusts to a new life and home situation. I was thinking of possibly hiring a combination housekeeper/companion who could perform light housekeeping tasks, prepare and feed him lunch, and monitor his forrays into the backyard to smoke cigars while I and my husband are at work. We have one teenage son in high school living at home and two sons in their early 20s who are in and out throughout the week and weekends.
I would be grateful for advice on the feasibility of such a plan and any information or leads on elder care services. Many thanks. Fran
The Center for Elders Independence is a not-for-profit program with sites in Berkeley and Oakland. The goal of the program is to keep elders in their communities and with their families for the duration of their lives. Participants are picked up at their homes during the day and brought to one of the program sites, where they receive full social care, medical care -all sorts of things. The goal of the program is to provide the highest quality of life possible for elders, by providing all necessary professional care while the participants are still rooted in and connected to their family, friends and communities.
The phone number at CEI is 433-1150. I believe that if your father qualifies for Medicare, the program costs are fully covered. You'll have to call to find out. I'm sure you'd be able to ask to talk to sons and daughters of other participants, to hear what they think of the program. I do know that it's considered a national model for elder care. anon
Check out www.calnhs.org. This is a new website with information on all the Californian nursing homes. It also has a section on alternative care. Good Luck. Anon
My husband and I are at an impasse. His mother is reaching an age where she is planning to retire (67 yrs) and he is insisting that within the next year or so she should come live with us. His mother is a very controlling and difficult person. They do not get along and she does not like me very much. Indeed she does not like her own son very much. She has said to me countless times that their family was very surprised that my husband married me as they thought he would have married someone with a higher social class background than mine. She has told me that she does not consider herself my mother-in-law because she is not ready for this role, nor is she ready to be a grandmother to our children. My inlaws are still married, but my husband does not believe that his father will be willing to move in with us so he just expects his mother will.
I do not like this woman. I do not want her having any influence over my children for reasons too many to go into. What should I do? I do not want to come between my husband and his family, but this is worrisome. And I certainly do not want to spend my days interacting with a very disagreeable person. HELP! Miranda
I think that you may have lost the bigger picture at hand- which is completely understandable as your monster-in-law seems to be consuming a vast portion of your energy. I understand your not wanting to come in between your husband and his family, however, I think you need to point out the fact that this woman shall and will come in between you and your husbband and your kids. This is unacceptable. She sounds very toxic and I'm guessing that only bad things shall come to your home with her being in it. Perhaps she can consider a retirement community- say Rossmoor in Walnut Creek? That scenario would cater to her limited ''reality.'' I wish you the best of luck! Been there & stopped that.
My advice is DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow your mother- in-law to move in. Do whatever you have to do, including going to marriage counseling, to convince your husband that it would be the absolutely wrong choice for your entire family. Based on what you've described, I don't understand why your husband would want to have his mother move in. The only thing I can understand is cultural/family obligation (which I have in my background). These feelings of obligation are strong, but can be worked on sensitively with the right counselor. In my case, both my mother and father moved in at my and my husband's request, mainly because they were elderly and I felt guilty about not having them live with me, but I also genuinely thought it might work out. Even though I had memories of an unhappy, dysfunctional childhood, I thought that time and age would have mitigated the problems. They didn't. Every one of my worst fears came true. Having my parents around put enormous stress on the whole family, including my child, created a great deal of tension between my husband and me, and resulted in a lot of ugly scenes before my parents finally moved out (at my request) after 9 months.
I also do not suggest having your mother-in-law move in to see how it works out. In my case, my parents were much more upset that I asked them to move out than they would have been had I not had them live with me at all. Every case is different, but what worked for me is having my parents live nearby (there are some low-income housing options for seniors in the East Bay) rather than in my house.
You should also consider the impact having an unhappy, stressed out mother would have on your children. Perhaps if the issue is framed in this manner, your husband might reconsider his choices. Been there
You have got to be kidding. Suggest to your husband that he could move in with his mother instead. Don't let them control you and make you miserable in your own home. Daughter in law
I read your message and could relate on an intimate level, with one exception, my mother is the difficult, disagreeable one who I strongly feels ''dislikes'' me. We once had a potential move-in situation, that I feared greatly(she's 76 and retired). I evaluated the situation, and realized that I had to be SELFISH if I wanted to maintain a serene, calm, loving family life with my husband and children. A life much different than the one I was raised in(a lot of verbal abuse from my mother). From all the things you mentioned about your mother-in-law, I absolutely would NOT let her live with you. Why have someone so difficult living in your home(sanctuary) who has been very forward about the way she feels about you and your children? If your husband feels guilty about not having your mother move in, send him to therapy, it's a much cheaper(in terms of saving your family) alternative. Your husband's first obligation, now, is to you and your children, not his mother. I always tell my sibling, that if my mother needs assisted living help, or whatever, I will send MONEY, but she absolutely could not live with me! Anonymous
In reading your message, I get the idea that your husband is becoming like his mother. His mother is controlling and hard to get along with, and now he is acting like that. I doubt that taking a stance and fighting about the topic will help. I suggest that, without making any committment, you explore the possiblities. Talk about what space she would need in the house, how housework would be shared, how often she would see her husband, how money would be handled. It will be hard, but talk about sharing childcare also. Try to keep an open mind. I also think you should open up this discussion to other concerned people. Talk to the mother-in-law, her husband, your children. your husband's siblings and anybody else who might be concerned. Perhaps, if you seem open to the idea, he will find something else to fight about. This will not necessarily be an improvement.
Why would a married woman want to leave her husband and move in with her son? Seems a bit wild. But after having a discussion he still wants her to move in, start negotiating. Insist that you get something just as crazy. Maybe you want a yacht or five more kids. Maybe you want your father to move in.
You say that your mother-in-law does not like you much. She would probably not like anyone her son married. You also say she doesn't like your husband much. Isn't it interesting that he wants her to move in if they don't like each other? sun
Help! Does anyone know of a support group or other resources available for dealing with difficult issues that arise when elderly parents live with you? My elderly parents are living with me and driving me and my husband nuts. They are generally cantankerous and constantly criticize me, particularly when it comes to my parenting style and lifestyle choices. I've tried reasoning with them (e.g., this is my house, I'm raising my baby in a manner that I see fit, we need to mutually respect each others choices and lifestyles, etc.), but they are incapable or unwilling to change. Kicking them out is not an option for various reasons (they would probably end up homeless). My therapist doesn't have any great ideas, either. I'm hoping to find a group of people in a similar situation with whom to share information, or at least commiserate. Thanks in advance for any ideas! At the end of my rope
For the family concerned about not having enough resources to deal with an aging parent at home: While they're on the other side of the bay, you might consider Parents Place ''Seniors at Home'' program, 415 491-7959. They provide a variety of services for the whole family, including help/support and resources for families dealing with an aging parent. I hope this is a beginning. Michael Y. Simon, MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist)
There is an organization in Oakland called Jewish Family Services (sorry, I don't know the number). They have many services including counselling and supportive type of help for the elderly. (You don't have to be Jewish). good luck. There are several really good retirement residences in this area for elderly people. My mother lives in a really nice place in Oakland (she could NEVER live with us). If you'd like more info. about where my mom lives, please write to me. Good luck. June