Multigenerational living, a concept common in many cultures, is now on the rise in America. Multigenerational living refers to households where two or more related generations reside together under one roof. In 1980 only 12 % of adults lived in multigenerational homes, today that percentage is 26% and growing.
In today’s world, being able to balance working and childcare along with financial burdens have made multigenerational living an excellent option for young parents. The emotional benefits for grandparents providing childcare, along with the love and support the children feel, provides the best possible solution for working parents. Financial advantages are also a contributing factor in the rise of multigenerational living.
Multigeneration homes are typically 2-3 related adults as well as children and may include aunts and uncles in addition to grandparents and possibly great grandparents living together in separate areas. Expenses are shared as well as housekeeping chores and cooking.
Improved financial security is one of the most important benefits of this arrangement along with better relationships, convenient care for both children and aging parents, improved mental health and the ability for some family members to pursue additional education or training.
The savings can be enormous for these families, around $60,000 in homecare for adults and $25,000 for child care per year. In addition to financial benefits, the improvement in mental health, the ability to talk to someone, the assistance with everyday chores will reduce stress for young parents. For the elderly parents the benefits are enormous. The stimulation, the social connections, the need to be relevant, prevents loneliness, isolation, cognitive decline and depression.
Multigenerational living is not without its drawbacks. Living with other people having opinions that are different from your own can be a challenge. Also, the lack of privacy can be difficult for some, that’s why there needs to be clear communication between all parties. It is important to create separate spaces for each family member to create a sense of privacy especially if someone works from home. In order to co-exist you need to set up boundaries and they need to be respected. Most likely this co-existence will not be short term so it is important to clarify preferences and expectations up front. Family rules, expectations, boundaries and values need to be respected at all times. Families also need to talk about issues before there is tension between them. Keeping the lines of communication open and fluid is imperative to a peaceful co-existence. Caregivers need to make time to re-charge and relax and need to be encouraged to do that or they can burnout. Fun activities like hiking, biking, going to movies, vacationing together can improve bonding and togetherness.
Multigenerational living can be very rewarding for all family members if done right. The financial and emotional rewards are enormous for all parties involved.
This way of living, common is many cultures, is taking off here and will undoubtedly continue to grow.