Survey: Mom’s welcome to move in more than dad

People write poems about mom, name their kids after her and even sport tattoos in her honor. And now the results of a national survey could be making mothers  feel even more special by revealing that most adult children would prefer mom if either of their parents had to move in with them.

To be precise, 70 percent of grown offspring who responded to the poll don’t want their parents moving in with them at all. But if they had to take in one or the other, 67 percent would pick mom over dad.

The survey of more than 1,100 adults (776 women and 342 men, all 40 and older with both parents living) was commissioned by Visiting Angels, an in-home senior care company with more than 450 offices throughout U.S., including Tacoma. In addition to Tacoma, nearby communities where services are available include Federal Way, Kent, Port Orchard and Puyallup.

Visiting Angels reported the survey shows that children of aging parents want to do well by them but haven’t made plans for them.

“Children don’t want their parents to move in, but they will do whatever it takes to take care of them, even if it means picking up the tab,” says Larry Meigs, chief executive officer of Visiting Angels.

According to Visiting Angels, survey respondents prefer mom because she’d help more than dad with cooking and cleaning and the kids, be neater and be a better listener. Counting against dad would be worse hygiene, more likely to say inappropriate things, sloppier and lazier, and more likely to want to  control the TV.

When asked what they fear about one or both parents moving in, respondents most often answered “Not enough room, “Lack of privacy,” “It would cause conflict” and “less intimacy with partner.”

Forty-one percent say they would prefer their parents remain in their own home with a caregiver, instead of moving them in to their home (31 percent) or moving them to an assisted living facility (17 percent) or nursing home (2 percent). More than half (58 percent) believe their aging parents would prefer to stay in their own home.

On the subject of money concerns, two-thirds of the survey participants (66 percent) said they can’t afford to move their parents in with them. Yet 51 percent would move them in, anyway. And 85 percent  say getting more of their parents’ inheritance wouldn’t influence their decision to open their home to mom and/or dad. 

 “People prefer their parents stay in their own home surrounded by the things that make them feel comfortable and safe,” said Meigs, whose company sends caregivers “into the home to help with everything from meal preparation to light housekeeping. It gives everyone peace of mind without causing conflict.”

The survey reveals many children, while well-intentioned concerning their parents’ eventual need for care, have no game plan. Most said they also haven’t had a conversation with their parents about the type of care they want as they age.

Some respondents also say the question of who should take care of mom or dad could cause conflicts with a parent a sibling or a spouse. 

As for who bears the most responsibility for aging parent, 32 percent of respondents say the child that lives closest, 27 percent give it to a sibling who has less family responsibility by being unmarried or childless, and 19 percent say the child with the most money.

“There can be a lot of conflict in families over how to care for aging parents. Part of the problem is that most families decide when it’s too late. Emotions take over and it’s difficult to think logically and clearly,” said Meigs. “You need to meet now with your parents and siblings to decide on a solution that appeals to everyone involved. Often, the family will agree that the best solution is in-home care where parents can stay at home and get the care they need without overly burdening anyone in the family.”


"Not enough room" is the reason most survey respondents gave for not wanting their parents to move in with them. (Courtesy photo)
“Not enough room” is the reason most survey respondents gave for not wanting their parents to move in with them. (Courtesy photo)