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Husband and I are aging gracefully in our 50 yr. old home, but finding chores more difficult as time passes. Our childless son & daughter-in-law have suggested we move into a "in-law suite" on their property (to be built or purchased with their funds). We are weighing the pros and cons.

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The best thing to read is the posts on the forum here about the children who have asked elders to move in with them and are now trying to figure out how to get them to leave and move into Assisted Living.

If you want to see real resentment build, go ahead & ask your childless son to use his own funds to build you an in law suite on his property and then figure out how to care for you and your husband when you are no longer so 'graceful' and need care 24/7.

My husband & I have 7 children between us and we'd rather swallow a bunch of pills chased with a good bottle of whiskey than burden them with us in our old age. True story. On paper, it sounds so simple and lovely. In reality, it's a living nightmare for these children.

I can tell you this: I am an only 'child' myself at almost 64 years old, in full charge of both of my parents in their old age. I had to move them to my city back in 2011 when dad could no longer drive; I set them up in a lovely Independent Living apartment where they lived for 3 years until dad fell & broke his hip, requiring an emergency move into Assisted Living for both of them. He passed in 2015 and I've been managing my 94 y/o mother's entire life ever since; she now has advanced dementia and lives in Memory Care; has been in and out of hospitals, rehabs, doctor's offices, specialists, eye doctors, dentists, ENT doctors for vertigo, you name it, I've dealt with it. Alone. THIS is what your son and DIL will be facing with you and your DH whether you live on his property or in Assisted Living. It's just that with AL, they'll have their privacy and be able to get away from the 24/7 aspect of caregiving a bit more and not have to do the hands on part of it. Being an only child is difficult enough as it is, never mind having 2 parents living with you.

There are about 2 pros and about 2 million cons to your idea. Just keep reading this forum for the best education you'll ever get on the subject. And start looking into nice Assisted Living residences in the area instead, where the two of you can live with dignity & grace, and where your son & daughter in law can visit you as often as they'd like. That's a win-win situation for everyone

Good luck!
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TeakMagnolia May 20, 2021
This is right on target. I'm the DIL who VERY reluctantly agreed to have MIL move in with us 5 years ago when she was kicked out of her house by ex-FIL (I was still in newborn baby fog). MIL had $350 and zero assets and was convinced she had 18 months to live. We all agreed we would provide a warm, loving home in the last months of her life and pay for care when needed. Turns out she was not on death's doorstep (though still very, very sick) and she is still able to take care of herself, drive, cook for herself, etc. She lives in our basement (bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette) and has her own entrance so fully private except for noise. She announced early on she was too sick to help out with any chores, childcare, etc. for us. I am DEEPLY resentful about the situation and have considered leaving many times but torn about the impact on the kids (marriage is already broken). Don't move in with your son. The romantic vision everyone has now is not how it will end up unless your son and especially your DIL want to be held hostage to a terrible situation they won't be able to get out of easily.
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So, who will be doing your chores?

Do your son and dil look forwatd to being at your beck and call for burned out light bulbs and taking down the summer clothes? Or would you rather be able to have staff on call?

When you can no longer drive, do you want to be dependent upon son and dil for transport to doctors, religious services and haircuts? Or would you rather rely on a facility with on call or scheduled transport?

When food prep becomes an issue, do you want to have a dining room, bistro and snack bar at your doorstep, or will you rely on your kids' cooking and meals on wheels?

What is your plan when the kids want to travel to Europe for a month? Or when one of you develops dementia and needs more care?
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I moved our father into our guest home next door that we paid $ on to fix up for him (my husband was willing at the time but deep down I think he resented it later). My father has been here 5 years and at first it was very convenient. We got along well and It was easy to check up on him regularly as he was starting to become forgetful. Unfortunately his dementia has worsened and he is very stubborn. He cannot see that he has dementia nor does he believe he needs more help. It’s taken a great toll on my health. I developed seizures, perhaps from stress I don’t know. But taking care of him is getting to be too much on me and he refuses a caregiver or assisted living. I was told I need to wait till he has a major fall or surgery then put him in a home but it’s very stressful worrying so much about him. I would not wish this situation on my worst enemy, however we really had no clue what we were getting into. We all meant well in the beginning.
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Hannah16 May 20, 2021
I too moved my mom into a cottage next door to my house. The idea was that she would live there independently but that is very far from what happened. She became fully dependent on me and got up less and less. She eventually stopped getting up entirely. I became her full time servant attending to her every need day and night. It has taken a huge toll on me and I feel as though my health has deteriorated. Last week I moved her to an assisted living respite program- the respite is for me! Now she has a staff of people attending to her whereas it was just me for almost 2 years. If I could go back in time I would not do this again!
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First of all your son and daughter-in-law sound wonderful. It’s a generous offer. I have seen happy families live inter-generationally quite well. I wish I could bottle that secret formula!

You and your husband need to sit down and make a solid plan for your aging selves that is realistic and includes what will happen IF one or both of you become bedbound, develops dementia, incontinence, can no longer drive or cook a meal and all the various, ungraceful aging worst case scenarios that might arise in the future. Carefully consider the financial and emotional implications of those scenarios.

Only you and your husband can understand your own family dynamics and how that might play out. And only you and your husband know what type of financial situation you are facing.

The emotional toll of caring for or housing a parent can be overwhelming, and there are so many stories on this forum about good intentions that turned into absolute nightmares. And you need to consider any other players - do you have other children or family that might resent this arrangement? I might consult with an attorney to see what advice they might have. I did, when I first started managing my mother’s finances, and it was very helpful.

Okay, now that the ugly part of aging and living with family has been addressed, I really hope everything works out. As I stated in the beginning some people are very successful in making an arrangement like this work. Plan for the worst and expect the best.
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If this suite would be yours, would have your own entrance and your own privacy, this may be a good idea, but family dynamics are so very different for each family it would be difficult for any of US to say if it is the right move for YOU. You and your husband already know your son and daughter-in-law well enough to know if this would be a good mix or not. For me, I would not want to do this. I would worry that I would become more and more dependent on them and I would not like that feeling overall. I would rather be dependent on say the IL or ALF to usher me about to appointments, shopping, and etc. I would hate the idea of feeling like a burden to my kids. Guess it is more or less the way I was raised. My parents took care of their own needs and welcomed us for visits. I would like to do the same with my grown kids. I think I might be OK with a detached living situation, but would want to pay rental, and would want to move to care when I needed care. So I think that this is a matter for each individual and each family to decide for themselves.
If this building was being put up for you at their expense then to my mind it is an automatic "no". That is way too much to let someone else do for me.
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My MIL moved in with us; little apartment downstairs. She had funds for a daily person and help when we travelled. She paid the utilities as her contribution to expenses. She had a VERY EASY personality even when demented. I always loved her. Even so, when the time came that she needed two people to transfer her, etc, she went to a nursing home, gracefully. Her socializing was pretty limited by her energy; her daily provided much. We were extremely lucky with her daily who became a family friend. (Found her, by asking nice clerks at stores if they knew anyone. Friends tried to steal her.) Brief family visits did the rest. I don't think I could have managed, even with these minimal requirements, cheerfully, without her personality and funds.
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disgustedtoo May 20, 2021
I often write about how my parents and mom's sisters took turns caring for their mother - perhaps every 3 months or so. Each kept some clothing, etc on hand. My grandmother was nice and didn't have dementia. IF the are nice and IF one has help/respite and IF the condition isn't too bad, yes, it can work out very well. Too often there are underlying issues that can make care-giving by family difficult, from slightly to not being able to get the person to do anything!

This situation is only at the starting line - the flag hasn't dropped yet to start the race. While this arrangement *could* work and all benefit from it, there are just too many ways to list what might go wrong (a few "stories" have been posted by others.) This really needs some in depth thinking and considering various medical issues that might cause problems, including a rift with well-meaning son and DIL.

You were probably lucky to be blessed with a good mother who didn't experience 'bad" behavior, before and after dementia! Lucky to find such a good person to help as well. IF we were all so lucky to have a situation like yours, this site probably wouldn't be as active as it is!
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Well, I can’t recommend any books but I can tell you about possible complications. This is why elder attorneys make lots of money, dealing with complicated issues.

My cousin invited his parents to live with them. The parents built onto the house, a second floor.

My cousin divorced his wife. The wife got the house. Their daughter in law no longer wanted them there.

Sad, but these things do happen. I don’t think that I would want to move in with family members. You never know what lies ahead.

They spent thousands on the addition. They didn’t get any money back from the addition after moving out of the home. They had nothing in writing about how to handle the situation if a divorce occurred or if the house was to be put up for sale, etc.

My cousins took a chance and they were sorry that they decided to move in with family.

Have you thought of an assisted living facility or an independent living facility? Possibly an apartment for seniors? What kind of care will you need?

It’s a crap shoot. May work out. May not. I wouldn’t do anything without planning ahead. Things happen that we don’t even consider happening. There has to be a plan. If an addition is not built, will parents pay rent? Who pays for the addition and so on? Is a portion of the money refunded if parents move out? So much to consider! Children can’t be expected to foot the bills for their parents care.
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Someone else has mentioned a couple getting divorced after the parents moved into their home and made a large financial contribution to the in law suite. This happened in my family too.

The youngest son convinced his Mum to sell her condo and give him the money as a down payment on a home with a suite. Within 2 years he was getting a divorce, Mum’s name was not on the deed, she got none of the proceeds when the house was sold.

For OP, things to consider, where ever you move to:
transportation options for when you no longer drive. Do not expect a family member to be your driver.

Shopping, when it is too much for you, how will you get your groceries?

Repairs and maintenance? If you cannot do these, who will you hire?

Social Life. This is your responsibility, not ‘the kids’

Daily chores. Are you prepared to hire a housekeeper?

Personal Care. Who will provide this? I have made it abundantly clear that I will not bathe, nor wipe bums, to both my parents.

Finances. Are they in order? Who have you assigned POA? Is your Will up to date.

Rent, utilities and other money matters. If you move in, you should have a rental agreement in place, it will include your monthly rent, share of the utilities and other expenses. It will list those expenses that you will pay out of pocket too.

There is one thing I want to touch on that I have not seen addressed. My house is 55 years old. It is well maintained, structurally sound and although I could do some updating and refinish the oak floors, it is in great shape.

What chores are you finding challenging? How does the age of your house make the chores difficult?

I hired a fellow to help me in the yard 3 years ago after my lawn mower was stolen. He does the heavy work and I get to have fun puttering in the flower and veggie beds.

I hired a woman to help with a big project clearing out years of clutter inside.

Lastly I hired a crew to do a number of trips to the thrift shop and dump. I did not have the ability to move large furniture items.
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You and your husband will be doing your son a favor by moving closer to them, where they can be there for you as needed. As suggested in the other comments, it's best to have your own apartment with kitchen and bathroom, and ideally a separate entrance, so that you can remain as independent as possible, and have an agreement about the financial arrangements. And you may need other help at some point, someone to drive you places if you can no longer drive, someone to help with cleaning, an aide to take you to the doctor, etc. Of course the down side is that you will no longer be near your friends and will have to get used to a new "neighbhorhood." If you do move, get connected with senior networks so that you can make new friends.
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jacobsonbob May 20, 2021
...and seek others having similar interests--they don't all have to be "seniors".
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Try to get home care to assist with chores rather than lose your independence by moving into someone else's property. If you already have a concern, it might not be a positive choice.
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