Growing up in America typically means you turn 18, you move out into your own home and that’s it, right? This isn’t as common in today’s society. With the increasing cost of living and housing in particular, adults are more likely to live under their parents’ roofs for longer and seniors are more likely to move in with their kids.
The cost to rent or purchase a home is often considered a lofty burden or unobtainable in some of the nation’s largest cities. In an effort to live well, multigenerational housing is on the rise and as a result, housing design is beginning to cater to this trend. Accommodations like halfplexes, dual master suites and renovated homes with lofts are a few examples of the housing development changes taking place as this trend is on the rise.
Transitioning to a Shared Household
Preparing for adult parents and children to live together is a tricky process that can take some time to adjust to. It is important to ensure that the home is practical for elder care with all necessary renovations for wheelchair or walker access to be done prior to the adult parent’s move in. Privacy and an adequate amount of space are also necessary and the biggest need in multigenerational living is the need for a more space. On occasion, kids will have to give up or share a room to accommodate a grandparent. Despite this need, adults and children alike need a separate living space. Additionally, modesty is a key element of dignity for many seniors. For seniors who need help with showering or other personal-care issues, hiring a caregiver can allow them to feel better as there is a continued separation between the caregiver / child relationship.
Family dynamics inevitably change especially when a grandparent takes on a new role as part of their child’s home. It might be the first time that grandchildren have long-term guests in their home and it is important to make them feel like they are part of the transition process. Similarly, seniors will have to adjust to sharing the head-of-household role or relinquishing the title when entering their adult child’s home. Communication is the key to establishing a new, larger family dynamic at home.
Another factor in children caring for an elder parent is how to split up responsibilities when the parent has increasing needs including disabilities or health conditions. Some families prefer to split their parent’s time between their homes and while it might seem like a fair solution, it can be taxing or even unfair to the mother or father. Frequent moves can take a toll and lead to health setbacks, confusion or mental distress. Communicating with all parties involved prior to making new living arrangements is highly recommended and can provide a more seamless transition into a new multigenerational housing situation. Alternative ways for the non-hosting parties to assist would include financial assistance or taking turns with offering assistance throughout the week.
Multigenerational living offers a multitude of benefits to family members including affordability, additional care, and a strengthened bond between family members.