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Emotional Issues

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December 13, 2010

Independent research conducted by the Boomer Project on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care sheds new light on the growing population of family caregivers who are choosing to live with and provide care for a parent, stepparent or older relative. One of the factors driving this trend is the need for emotional support. For details, view and print the Executive Summary of this research.

The Ups and Downs of Living Together

So what do multigenerational families say about the experience? Living together has its ups and downs.

Positive feelings of care and accomplishment can mix with stress. Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist, says that each family member has needs that should be taken into consideration. Individual needs, though, need to be viewed in the context of the health of the overall family unit.

"People need independence, but interdependence and family unity are important as well, particularly in today's hectic and demanding world," he adds.

Support, Inside and Out

If families are living together and seniors need care, adult children will need support inside the home, whether the support comes from other family members or in the form of professional respite assistance.

"The best time to discuss this issue is when you're willing to give up your house," Kaplan notes. "That's when it's time to get your spouse and children behind the idea and communicate with adult siblings. Talk to your brothers and/or sisters and let them know you may need respite help."

"When a decision to combine families is made, expectations must be set right away," he said. "Family members must listen and become engaged in the conversation. The more the family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas."

Setting aside time for your nuclear family is important too. "Consistent daily scheduling allows for formal and informal interaction," Kaplan recommends. "If you do things right, the result is a strong, more unified family."

The Best and Worst

Home Instead Senior Care research of family caregivers who reside with their loved ones reveals that living under the same roof generates the best and worst of conditions.

The Best

For those who live with their parents, the best thing about being a caregiver is:

The Worst

For those who live with their parents, the worst thing about being a caregiver is:

Of those who said they lived too close to their loved ones, 72 percent also rated their stress as a 5 -- at the top of the stress scale.

7 Tips to Make it Work

Home Instead Senior Care and intergenerational living expert Dr. Matthew Kaplan offer seven tips for a happy multigenerational family.

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