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More Families Living Under One Roof

Multigenerational family.
The rise in multigenerational households is heavily influenced by economics, with many young adults known as “boomerang kids’’ moving back home with Mom and Dad because of limited job prospects and a housing crunch.

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December 15, 2011

Before moving a senior loved one into your home, make sure all family members buy into the idea and understand the looming expectations and challenges. Then put a plan in place that will help ensure harmony under one roof.

Q. I’m thinking of moving my 90-year-old father in with the family. Is this common and what should I know?

Multigenerational living is on the increase. As a matter of fact, about 7.1 million U.S. households in 2010 had at least three generations of family members, an increase of more than 30 percent since 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

When “multigenerational” is more broadly defined to include at least two adult generations, a record 49 million, or one in six people, live in such households, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center. The rise in multigenerational households is heavily influenced by economics, with many young adults known as “boomerang kids” moving back home with Mom and Dad because of limited job prospects and a housing crunch, according to the Pew report.

But extended life spans and increased options in home health and outpatient care over nursing homes also have played a role.

Other findings from recent studies:

  • The most common multigenerational family is an older parent who owns the house, living with an adult child and grandchild.
  • Older women are more likely than older men to live in a multigenerational household.

Consider the emotional, financial, and comfort and safety aspects of intergenerational living before you move your dad in with you. There are many things you should consider before merging households. Matthew Kaplan Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist, said that families should approach decisions of combining households from a partnership perspective.

“Ask yourself, ‘Can I get the whole family behind the idea?’ When a decision is made to combine families, expectations must be set right away. Family members must listen and become engaged in conversation. The more the entire family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas,” he said.

“People need independence, but seeking interdependence and family unity are important as well, particularly in today’s hectic and demanding world.”

Make Way for Mom provides a variety of tools and resources that can help you decide whether or not to combine families. The website also offers tips if you decide to make the move and resources to help your dad remain in his own home.

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Thoughts and stories from others
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