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Sunday, May 2, 2010

15 questions to ask your elderly parent before they move in with you

In many families, there comes a time when an aging parent is no longer able to live alone, for a variety of reasons. A popular solution is for the parent to move in with one of his or her children. Sometimes this works out better than it does in others. The key to giving this arrangement the best possible chance of success is communication before the parent moves in.

If you are considering having your parent move in with you, here are 15 essential questions you should ask your parent before you or your parent commit to the move:

1. Does your parent expect to take all meals with your family, or only to join the family on special occasions or when invited? If your parent isn't eating with you, how will meals be prepared (consider shopping for food, cooking, storage, clean-up, etc).

2. Will your parent look after his or her own room? Will he or she do any chores in their own living space, such as vacuuming and dusting, or will you do that for them? How will his or her laundry be looked after?

3. Is your parent available to act as a babysitter for your children? If so, how often?

4. Does your parent expect to have his or her own private entrance to your home?

5. Does your parent expect to have his or her private bathroom in your home?

6. Will your parent want to come along on family vacations? If so, can your parent afford to pay for his or her share of the travel?

7. Does your parent expect that he or she will want to invite friends, book club members or other people to your home whenever he or she wants to?

8. Does your parent expect to smoke in your house?

9. Will your parent expect to use your family's TV, computer, kitchen or car?

10. Will your parent want to have a pet of his or her own? Will you be expected to help look after the pet or to drive to veterinarian appointments?

11. Will you be relied upon to drive your parent to medical, dental, optical or other appointments or activities?

12. Does your parent keep similar hours to those kept by your family? Does your house have to be quiet after a certain time of night?

13. Will there have to be any renovations to your home to accommodate your parent? If so, who is paying for them?

14. Will you have to buy special foods or supplements for your parent?

15. Will your parent need additional help with daily living, such as nurses, meal preparers, housecleaners, etc? If so, can your parent make these arrangements on his or her own or are you expected to help find and hire them? Can your parent afford this help?

This is no time for anyone to be shy about what's important to them!

I cover this topic and more in my book "Estate Planning Through Family Meetings".

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