Dear Mom and Dad: Are Your Finances Ready for Retirement?


While multigenerational households are an expectation in many countries, only about 20 percent of households in the United States are multigenerational, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. Sure, a multigenerational home helps stretch a parent’s retirement fund, but the decision has far more benefits than just money. Mainly, it reduces social isolation, which in turn can promote a healthier physical and mental state. You just need to be careful how you approach the topic.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time how children approach it is: ‘Mom and Dad, we’re worried about you. You can’t do as much as you think you can,’ and it’s all about taking away their freedom,” said Lisa Cini, president of Mosaic Design Studio, which provides design services for senior living, long-term care and health care institutions. “I think that’s the exact wrong approach. You need to move them from fear to freedom, not the opposite way.”

Ms. Cini moved her grandmother and her parents into the home she shared with her husband and teenage children, which she details in her book “Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living.”

Instead of using scare tactics, Ms. Cini advises that you start by asking parents what they are having challenges with, like keeping up the yard or maneuvering the layout of their home or feeling lonely.

Next, outline the benefits to you of having your parents move in. Perhaps your parents can keep an eye on the kids or pets while you travel or help offset the cost of certain bills or help you handle meal prep during the week.

But living together under one roof isn’t a solution for everyone.

Other options to help your parents without moving them in could be aiding them in finding home help, visiting them more frequently to reduce the feeling of isolation or financially subsidizing their current housing.

A natural extension of the retirement conversation is estate planning, which is arguably even more complicated. Now you’re bringing up the inevitability of their deaths and, if not done tactfully, it can seem as if you are trying to sniff out details of an inheritance. You can sidestep that, however, by not focusing immediately on a will.



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