B28 - Living with Family or Whānau

While parents living with adult children or other relatives (eg, a niece or nephew) is not really a new phenomenon, multigenerational households are becoming more popular because of financial or caregiving needs, or simply because people like being in each others' company and living in the same household.

Sometimes, living with family or whānau is therefore a good short- or long-term solution.

However, living with relations in the one household will only work if it's being done for the right reasons and the arrangement is amicable. If you have had a difficult or strained relationship with your family, sharing their home is unlikely to go well unless both parties put the effort in to change the negative relationship.

Before moving in with family, make sure everyone involved gets a chance to share their feelings about the proposed living arrangement, including any children. This should happen before a final decision is made so that everyone feels their opinions are being considered.

Also, discuss the 'ground rules'. These should cover any of the issues that you think might arise; for example, finances and your contribution to the household, privacy, dispute resolution, whether you can invite your own guests to the house, etc. This can also be a good opportunity to check what sort of care and support you require from your family and what support you in turn can provide.

Most people don't consider moving in with family until they have a health setback or crisis that challenges their ability to live independently. Consider moving before you need to so that you can become used to your new surroundings and don't need a lot of urgent care from family members.

You may still be able to receive in-home support and care from outside sources, as well as financial support with any modifications that your new home might need to make it safe for you (eg, ramp). However, you will need to discuss how any other renovations that need to be made to your family's home are going to be paid for if there are no subsidies or grants available to cover costs. By pooling your resources, for example, you may be able to come up with a better living arrangement for everyone in the household. If you contribute financially in this way, you may have to think about how other family members will feel about it. A wider family meeting may help resolve any potential issues about family finances before they arise.

Think too about what sort of living arrangement suits you. For example, will you have your own space within the home - somewhere you can retreat to if you need time to yourself. What are your expectations about the time you'll spend with the family? Will you have meals together?

Just because you're living with family, don't isolate yourself from your own friends and activities. This might be difficult if you move to a new location, but there are senior organisations that can support you to get out and meet new people.

Pros

Cons

What do I need in order to take this option?

Could this option limit my future choices?

Maybe, depending on the type of accommodation you are looking to move on to. A return to living in your own home may be difficult if your finances are constrained, whereas moving into aged care in the future may be easier as you will have the help and support of family members.

For more information

Contact your local district health board for an assessment of your new home to see what adaptations need to be made for you. See also B27 Home Modifications and B2 Sharing Your Home.