Seniors as carers: adult children who live at home
This article is the final of our series looking at the invaluable contribution Australian seniors make as carers in our communities.
In this article, we will explore the challenges and support options available for Australian seniors whose adult children live at home.
Why do adult children remain living at home or return to live at home?
Research shows a growing number of adult children in Western societies remain living at home with their parents or choose to return home after leaving. A University of Melbourne review of research into these family dynamics reveals that the trend is driven by complex emotional, social and financial factors. Source: University of Melbourne > Pursuit > Crowded house as kids fail to launch.
It’s clear from the research that adult children who return to live with their parents do so because they are seeking emotional and financial stability under a variety of circumstances. Adult children return home because of significant life changes and stressors including relationship breakdown, loss of job, financial hardship and ill health. In some cases, they may also bring their own children with them.
Another common reason for an adult child to remain at home is the pursuit of higher education. Many parents choose to support their children while they continue to study after leaving high school. The arrangement may be a natural extension of the support provided during the child’s teenage years; however ongoing study, a lack of career opportunities, and a comfortable living situation for the adult child can sometimes mean the support is beyond original intentions.
Some parents continue to care for adult children who are unable to live independently due to a physical or mental illness. We explore the support options available for seniors who care for adult children in Seniors as carers: caring for an adult child.
According to the University of Melbourne review, wealthier parents, and parents who remain married were more likely to have adult children living at home for longer. Parents in poor health were less likely to have an adult child living at home unless that child was a formal carer.
Challenges and benefits of having your adult children live with you
Some parents are fortunate enough to be able to continue to provide financial and emotional support to adult children who remain in the family home or return to the family home. Others may feel they have no alternative than to take on this role in their children’s lives, and for others still, what may have been offered as a temporary solution can become an untenable long-term situation.
Research shows that adult children living at home may benefit from greater emotional and financial stability. Unfortunately, it can have the opposite impact on parents. Having an adult child living at home can have a negative impact on a range of areas including finances, independence, social life, and privacy.
But it’s not all bad news. Adult children living at home can help by taking on care giving responsibilities for aging parents and sharing the financial and physical load of running a household.
Tips and support for seniors with adult children living with them
Open communication is the key to ensuring a mutually beneficial situation when adult children remain living at home or return to live at home. Discussing the arrangement, and even writing down some ground rules, can help to prevent conflict arising from mismatched expectations. Even if your adult child has been living at home for some time, it’s not too late to discuss the situation.
Your discussions could cover:
- How long will does your child plan to stay?
- Will they pay rent, take a share of the bills, or contribute financially in other ways?
- How will they contribute to household chores?
- Can they have guests visit or stay overnight?
- Who will take care of their daily needs including laundry and meals?
- Can they smoke and drink in the home?
- If they plan to leave home, how much notice should they give?
- If your situation changes and you need to ask them to move out, how much notice will you give?
You have a right to say who lives in your home, and you have a right to change your mind. You can even use a special residential tenancy agreement if you want to protect your rights and formalise the arrangement of your child living at home as a tenant. You can find more information and support at Consumer Affairs Victoria and Seniors Rights Service.