Thursday 20 January 2011

Practical aspects of living with three generations-setting up the household

I wrote sometime ago that I planned to write about the practical aspects of three generational living.

This is about the set up of a three generational household. Grandma or Grandad usually come to stay because of illness or frailty. Not just because they are old. Being elderly doesn't necessarily mean that someone wants to or needs to give up their home and independence.

Most people reading this are likely to be in the middle generation and thinking about the change for them-enormous, I know, I've been there. It is also a massive change for the older relative.

First, is the change really necessary? Could you pop in more often? Is this a temporary issue, for example, after an operation? Could they live in a flat near you?

If independent living is no longer possible or reasonable, can you manage? It is easy to feel that you have to make the promise "I'll never put you in a home." Think twice, think again and pray for honesty and strength and don't make promises that you may not be able to keep.

Providing meals, medication, supervision and transport to appointments is more time consuming than it sounds written like this but washing and dressing, feeding, cleaning, hoisting, turning take far, far more time. If you already have young children and home educate, this higher level of care may be impossible. Sadly, some older people have dementia. Some of those people will need supervision and may only become apathetic but others will wander and some will even develop aggressive behaviour. It may not be possible to manage.

Having decided that three generational living is the way forward, here are some practical points
-help with decluttering and packing. Most people who are unable to live on their own will be unable to declutter effectively and you are about to put the contents of two houses into one. The maths doesn't work without decluttering or a very, very big house. You will need to declutter too-this may mean losing treasured pieces of furniture.

-get practical advice especially about any alterations. We were able to have occupational therapy advice before we had alterations done.

- Ask-the man in the carpet shop had been in a similar position and was able to advise about a carpet suitable for a zimmer frame.

-financial issues need to be discussed. You may well need a contribution for living expenses. This isn't a holiday. Expenses will go up-there may be special items of food. Heating expenses are likely to take a hike. More than this, there may be inheritance tax issues if you are buying with an older person and also issues if they need to go into care. Take advice from specialists in these areas.

-Who is going to be head of  the house? Who is going to be in charge in the kitchen? Is the older person safe in the kitchen? How are you going to handle this?

-If at all possible, find someone else who has been in the same situation. I have been greatly blessed by an older lady who has cared for an older relative. Someone else who has been in the same situation can listen with understanding, pray intelligently and offer advice that makes sense.


  1. A thoroughly useful post which I hope will be read by many!

  2. Yes, I agree, very helpful and thoughtful.