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  1. #1
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    Having a parent move in with you

    Anyone ever deal with this?

    My parents have been divorced for years (both retired now). My Dad is doing fine, found a roomie and is basically enjoying retired life. My mom has been drifting for a while now, and her financial status is precarious. She works FT to pay the bills, and doesn't like her job. She also has ZERO capacity to live alone. Yet she'll only live with family. She can't seem to make connections with people her own age and fine a roommate to share costs. Once her lease runs out on her current apt (January), she's moving in with me in my duplex. I offered because I want to see her under less of a financial burden, and not have to work unless she wants to.

    When she moves in with me, she'll be coming back to MA into a town that I grew up in with my brothers and sisters. She has roots in the local church and knows many of the townspeople.

    The problem is my adjustment. I'm glad I have time to get used to the idea, because I'm having a hard time imagining going from living independent and alone for the past 22 years, to having someone live with me. She and I are as different as can be. I'm fine with silence, and she loves to chitchat. She has a tendency to spend her money (and others) a bit too freely, and I'm a pragmatist that refuses to get back into debt (I did the whole post-college debt thing in my 20s. Other than my mortgage and my car, I have no debt and I intend to keep it that way)

    Any tips? Or things I should consider to help with the transition?

    ETA: She's reasonably healthy and will have her own car and get around when she needs to. So no issues on that front.
    Last edited by Bostonfan; 08-30-2010 at 06:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    I would just make sure any concerns you have are voiced up front. Make sure she knows what your expectations are, and how you live your life. Some compromise is always good, but you don't want to be miserable, so at least make sure everything is on the table so it can be discussed and agreed upon.

  3. #3
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    I agree with Satellitegirl. And you need to make sure that you are on the same page about what living together means. If your mother expects you to do everything with her, and you expect to continue to have your separate life, there will be problems. So I would be very upfront from the beginning about everything. And make sure you each have your own space, too. This will be very important for your mother since she's moving in with you--I've had the experience more than once of moving in with a roommate already settled somewhere and being stuck feeling like a house guest. Make sure your mom can hang pictures and that sort of thing. (I even had that issue when I first got married as I moved into my husband's place---and in a way it was even harder--with roommates, at least I had my own room for my own stuff).

  4. #4

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    Well it sounds like you know your concerns so be honest and up front with your mom. Make sure she is aware that her spending will be of her own money, perhaps you don't mind providing a home and paying the bills and even providing food but if she wants to go on shopping sprees then she needs to keep a job of some sort. That way there is no misunderstanding. It will take some getting used to but I think/hope you will look back on this one day as a great decision and a great way to spend more time with your mom.
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

  5. #5
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    This is very nice of you to do - it's not easy to change your life and have someone move in with you, even if you love them.

    I agree that being up front about expectations is important, and don't ignore your own feelings because it will just build resentment.

    Be clear about what costs, if any, you expect her to cover. You graciously say you don't want her to work unless she wants to, but adding another person to the house increases costs and it isn't unreasonable to expect her to share some of the cost if she can. Would you be mad if you cover all the costs, and then she spends her money on things you consider foolish?

    Also, you mention you have siblings. Be clear on if and when it's ok for her to invite them - or other guests over. If you're working all day, you shouldn't have to come home to a crowd of people unless you want them there.

    This really is nice of you, I hope it works out.
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

  6. #6

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    Wow, Boston you are brave! It sounds as if your mom has created her own financial situation. Honestly, I'd be researching backup plans in case this doesn't work out. Not to be mean but reality is she is probably not going to change her ways. My mom recently moved into a senior apartment complex that has staff, a common area, crafting, outings, etc. They all look out for each other and it is close to shopping. We can meet for lunch and my daughter's school activities without being together 24/7. Kudos to you for helping, really that is above and beyond in my book.
    "awwww....shades of Janet Lynn" - Dick Button on anyone who makes more than one mistake in their program.

  7. #7

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    So will she have any income at all, or will you be supporting her entirely? Will she help out with rent, groceries, utilities and such? I know this isn't your typical roommate situation, but it's a big commitment for you to make, and it could be very helpful for her to meet you halfway so that you don't feel as though she's taking advantage of you.

  8. #8
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    We'll be splitting utilities and she'll pay for groceries (she loves to cook). But it'll be at least 50% less than her living expenses now. She has part of a pension check that she gets every month from my father's job. That means with the reduced expenses living with me, she won't have to work unless she wants to work part time in order to stay busy and earn a little money for "extras" (vacations, gifts, etc).

    I definitely will consider how she can make the house part of hers. Pictures will go a long way. I don't have many, and she has a lot. We'll just have to negotiate how much she brings into the house because I don't really do knick-knacks, and she does.

    She's definitely willing to acquiece to my comfort level. The one thing she really wants is a dog. I love dogs, but never had one in my adult life because I didn't want to leave a dog home all day while I was at work. That won't be an issue. But I'm already making it clear that she's to wait for me and we'll search for a dog together. She's used to big dogs, and that'll be our first negotiation. I have small yard, so I'm going to steer her towards a small (10lbs or less). And I told her we're not getting one until after she's well settled in. One adjustment at a time for me

    I just have to navigate this carefully. I certainly don't want her to feel like she has to do all the compromising. So I'll have to pick my battles carefully.

  9. #9
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    My parents came from MA to spend extended time with me in FLA in the winter, and Mom has continued to come to stay for 3 months since Dad died. One thing that has been really important is for her to have her own space. I'm able to set up for her to have a bedroom and her own sitting room( my three kids have all graduated and moved out on their own). That way when she wants to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune EVERY night, followed by one of the incarnations of Law and Order, she can do it on her own TV. But she knows she is certainly welcome to be with us in the den, too. She also likes to sit in her study to read, since my husband often works from home. Mom likes to have certain "jobs" that she knows are hers- she needs to be needed, so make sure that you and your mom talk about what her schedule and her plans are for her day. I do find it somewhat stressful sometimes- like you, I'm quite content to be quiet and Mom likes to chat. She just got hearing aids last month, so this winter will be easier I think

  10. #10

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    I am just about to move back in temporarily with my mum and her husband until my unit is built (which has been going on forever). Hopefully it will only be 3 months. Had to move out of the place I was sharing because the guy decided to pull the pin on his lease. Housesitting this week and will be there next week. Plus I have a couple of other housesits coming up.

    Actually mum has been really good. They don't want me to pay anything because they would much rather me save the money. Although I am going to give them money for food whether they like it or not. And she has taken my cat in which she didn't seem to mind.

    Good luck with it all. Maybe because you are older (and we all get wiser as we get older) we probably find it easier to deal with problems or if required walk away if necessary rather than confront. Anyway I hope it works out for you.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  11. #11

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    My mother moved in with me along with my then eleven year old nephew. It was hell, let me tell you. I went from living on my own for the prior 10 years to having my mother in the house.

    You absolutely need to make sure that she keeps making decisions about herself and her finances. My mother has totally given up on doing that, and will claim that she "can't deal" with whatever she is supposed to be doing.

    I've moved out of my home and gotten married a few years ago, but the dependence on me still exists (I still pay the mortgage, too). I actually avoid telephone calls now, because it always starts with "I need you to..."

    Set boundaries and limits, and stick to them. Make sure you still have your own time. And if you want to have a friend over for make sure you don't get all squicked out doing it, and set up some rules about that too!

  12. #12

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    My gut tells me to make sure she still works. Why? If she's not working, and not connecting with her social network, her only job will be you. That can get old very quickly.

    Agree with others to discuss this upfront. If she loves to cook, make sure you reach an understanding about meals. She may be assuming that she will cook every night, you may prefer that you only have dinner together a few nights a week. Will she be included in all your social events? Vacations? Better to discuss now than try to explain why mom isn't invited to that cookout or long weekend at the beach.

    If she has a hard time budgeting, make sure you stick to your financial agreement. Set a specific date of the month to review the joint bills and make sure she pays you then and there for her share.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  13. #13
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    I just want to say I think this is a wonderful thing you're doing for your mother Bostonfan.


    And yes, set guidelines and stick to them.

  14. #14

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    I also wanted to add my appreciation for what you are doing, I think its very responsible and mature of you to take this on, and I think your concerns show that you are very realistic for the challenges ahead of you.

    I often think I'll need to do the same for my mother when she gets older, and for me the difficulty will be how get preserve my own adult life and goals. All my best wishes to you.

  15. #15

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    I admire you for choosing to take on this responsibility, and I wish you the best. I think it would be good to plan with your siblings what you will do if your mother develops health problems or other age related disabilities as she gets older. I hope they will share in the caregiving at such a time, and not assume that you will do it all, because she is with you. At 80 my mother was functioning wonderfully, at 84 she is still in great physical health, but her short term memory is gone, so I know things can change.

  16. #16

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    My mother-in-law lives with us-she's great; I love her! One tip to remember: whenever your mum does something that ABSOLUTELY DRIVES YOU BONKERS...remind yourself that there are things you do that drive her absolutely bonkers. Best wishes and good luck!

  17. #17
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    My suggestion would be to get it in writing. I'm serious! Next time you talk to her, you can mention that you're looking forward to having a great living experience with her. And that in order to do it, the more you are both on the same page, the greater chance you will both acheive success.

    Ask her to e-mail you what she thinks the house rules should be. And you do the same. Exchange your lists and then start negotiating. (You'll probably have to go through multiple drafts of your documents until they're the same.)

    You might even want to separate your wants/needs into categories. Such as: "Things that I MUST have (no IF's, AND's or BUT's!!!...", "Things I want (but which I will be flexible about)...", "Things that would be great to have....but I'm not holding my breath!" (humour can be a good tool in these situations!).

    Having it in writing means you have something you can refer to and this can be reviewed three or six months after living together to see if another update is needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by skatemommy View Post
    Wow, Boston you are brave! It sounds as if your mom has created her own financial situation. Honestly, I'd be researching backup plans in case this doesn't work out.
    This is a good point. How about suggesting your living together as a trial run? After x months, you will sit down and see if this living situation is working for both of you. If it's not, then you'll move on to the backup plan that skatemommy suggests. Maybe your back-up plan could have two or three options (that you both came up with before she moved in). So in case things don't work out, you both know what will happen and the transitions to the new plan won't be as difficult to manage.
    It's official. I am madly in love with Meryl Davis.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by cynthiabc View Post
    I admire you for choosing to take on this responsibility, and I wish you the best. I think it would be good to plan with your siblings what you will do if your mother develops health problems or other age related disabilities as she gets older. I hope they will share in the caregiving at such a time, and not assume that you will do it all, because she is with you. At 80 my mother was functioning wonderfully, at 84 she is still in great physical health, but her short term memory is gone, so I know things can change.
    This is a great idea. FWIW, when our Mom was fully functional (relatively) we all sat down and discussed our parts in her future. My mother was a difficult person and we all had our "issues" with her. We made a plan with keeping each of our strengths in mind: One of us is a Psych expert, one was a Nurse, one was a Lawyer, two others were the people mom listened to the most, and had high patience levels. For the most part, it worked...except for at the end, when selfishness, greed, and old baggage set in.
    My point is: Everyone should have a plan or two to address your mom's future needs.

  19. #19
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    I would expect you mother to have her own issues with the transition, not matter how advantageous the move seems. There are going to be things she doesn't like in the long run, no matter how much you try to accommodate her in your home and in the ground rules you come up with. In addition to PeterG's great suggestion about having a back-up plan, you could set aside times to have sanity checks -- a month later, three months later --to discuss what's working and what isn't and adjust accordingly. No matter what you set up at first, it's impossible to predict how the best laid plans will play out.

    I don't know what your mother's personality is, but in that vacuum, I would suggest that if she gets weepy or starts to sound like a victim -- ex: talks about how she feels like you have the power and she's feels like just a guest, etc. -- to let it sit a while before reacting and changing the rules. (Or you could end up with the psychic equivalent of the guest room in your own house.)
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  20. #20
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    When you say she has "ZERO" capacity to live alone, why is that?

    Is she old enough to collect soc. security along with her pension from your dad? If so, I'd look into retirement housing for her if you can. A small little one bedroom apartment in a community with other folks like her. Check out what State services are available to her.

    You say you two are as different as can be. I don't see you being happy in a situation like that. As much as we love our parents, living with them as adults can be difficult. Try to remember why you moved out on your own in the first place.

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