The Growing Trend in Multigenerational Living
A multigenerational home is one where you may find parents, children, returning adult children, grandparents and even grandchildren all living under the same roof. In the past this was due to several reasons including saving money, helping our parents and grandparents age and curtailing loneliness. This trend faced a downward spiral with the increase in wealth and the desire for independence.
But guess what, the trend is returning. Experts report the primary reasons families are coming back together under one roof include “boomerang” children returning home, an older population living longer and wanting to age in place, and an economy requiring more than one paycheck. And then we add the pandemic to the picture! The overarching goal is to support one another, says commercial designer Mary Cook of Mary Cook Associates in Chicago.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2016, 64 million or 20% of the U.S. population are living under the same roof which is an increase of 51% from 42.4 million in 2000. The 65+ population in the United States is expected to increase to 20% of the population by 2030, the time the last of the baby boom cohorts reach age 65, or 1 in 5 Americans. Between February and May 2020, more than 1.12 million people between the ages of 23 and 30 moved back into their parents’ homes because of a variety of reasons associated with the COVID 19 pandemic.
So, what does this mean? For some, this has proven to be the ideal situation, with minor adjustments. For others, the situation is stressful to say the least because different personalities may not always see eye-to-eye. AARP has offered some strategies to help make the multigenerational home more successful.
First, try to discuss expectations and responsibilities before the move. Who is going to pay for what? Are there family rules for laundry, TV, cooking, and opposite-sex sleepovers? A frank discussion about meals and nutritional needs may be warranted if diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia or other lifestyle diseases are part of the picture.
Secondly, discuss parental responsibilities for aging parents with the other siblings. What will they do to help? Who will take a parent to the doctor or help pay bills online? Third, include age-friendly and privacy features if you are building or renovating. Wider doorways and wheelchair friendly floors and bathrooms may be needed. Next, divide the chores and let family members choose the ones they want. They are more inclined to follow through if they have input. Lastly, realize that people’s personalities and habits usually do not change. The irritating “quirk” your family member has had for many years will not disappear.
The mental, emotional, and financial adaptations which must be made can be staggering. While certain matters may be more difficult to discuss, they need to be addressed for the peace of mind and benefit of all. Donna Butts, Executive director of Generations United, says, “Families may be coming together because of the economy, but they’re staying together because it helps them all."