House and Home

3 Tips for When the In-Laws Move In


According to a Pew Research study, in 1980, 28 million Americans lived in a home that contained at least two adult generations.

By 2008, that number had increased by 33 percent to 49 million. Of this 49 million, 47 percent were families where three generations were present: grandparents, parents and children. That's a lot of people under one roof, leaving the baby boomers, or "the sandwich generation," to provide for both their parents and their children at the same time. With nursing homes and elderly care facilities costing up to $100,000 a year, it's sometimes a better option to make room for your elderly parents or in-laws at home. But deciding what room they'll live in is only the beginning. Here are three tips for adjusting to life with your parents — except this time, it's under your roof.

1. Creating SpaceWhen you're preparing for your parents or in-laws to move into a home you share with your spouse and children, certain accommodations should be made.

  • Give Them Their Own Space

To avoid claustrophobia and to allow your parents or in-laws to have their own private area, it's best to have a separate bedroom and bathroom available (preferably on the first floor). This may mean converting a guest bedroom or an office, or having two children share a bedroom to free up space.

  • Safety Measures

Depending on your parents' health and mobility, be sure to install support rails by both the toilet and the shower. Any walkways or staircases should also have sufficient railings.

  • Renovating

If your home cannot accommodate your parents or in-laws, consider a renovation. This might be as simple as winterizing a screened-in porch or putting up another wall in your home. However, if your budget allows, your parents' moving in might be a good time to invest more into your home by either doing an addition or redoing the attic, which can increase your property value. Talk to your parents or in-laws about the financing of this, as they may be able to contribute to these costs. 

2. Talk FinancesIn order to budget your income, it's important to understand your parents' financial situation. What kinds of investments have they made? What is in their savings? What are their health care costs? The hard questions will have to be addressed, like who the proprietor of their will is and what's in it. Once you've discussed these things, it will be easier to prioritize your budget and see where your parents may be able to help out. 

3. Family DynamicsWith two extra people in the house, routines are bound to shift. Maybe your mother-in-law wants to cook dinner some nights, or your father wants to watch golf all Sunday. This will not only be an adjustment for you, but for your children as well. Set boundaries and establish rules.

To avoid over-crowding, research activities and groups in your community that cater to an elderly demographic. This will help your parents assimilate to their new neighborhood and make friends while creating some space at home for your kids.