Multigenerational Living: A Creative Approach to Aging in Place

Although many seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, sometimes care needs prevent this from being a reality. Rather than moving into assisted living or a care home, however, the answer may be a multigenerational dwelling—adding on to an existing home to better accommodate a senior’s needs.

More people are entering old age than ever before, and because of this, multigenerational homes have gained in popularity. As seniors age, they and their families face difficult decisions about how to provide the best care possible. The next best option for aging in place is living with adult children or other close family members.

According to “Aging Alone in America,” written by NYU professor Eric Klinenberg, one-third of older Americans are choosing to remain independent. As people grow older, living in a familiar place, with those they love, helps alleviate depression and disorientation that can occur in aging facilities. Furthermore, with multigenerational living,  families may avoid the guilt and long-lasting arguments that frequently occur when elderly parents are convinced to live in a care setting they unsure of.

Unlike much of the rest of the world, Americans tend to live separate from their elderly relatives. This can often be perceived by older people as pushing them away or not wanting to deal with them. Perhaps due to the last economic recession, however, young people are remaining in their parents’ homes longer and older people are moving back in with their adult family members.

Beyond the obvious cost benefits, living at home with family can help your parents remain healthy, both physically and emotionally, by being around the ones they love who can help them maintain a routine.

Assisted living communities are great for those who need care, sometimes seniors who are a little more independent miss their daily routines around the house. Yardwork, gardening, and cooking are all forms of physical and mental exercise that your loved one can still participate in with multigenerational living.  Doing small things around the house to keep active can help reduce what is called aging atrophy, eventually leading to a greater dependence on those around them. With your parents in a suite attached to your house, they can perform the cleaning duties or homecare activities you might not have time to do yourself. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Lastly, living in a familiar place allows seniors to control their surroundings better. As always, if your loved one begins to require too much care to remain safely at home, you should investigate other living options. Eldercare planning can be challenging to navigate, but keeping parents close can hopefully alleviate some of that stress.


Max Gottlieb

Max Gottlieb is the content manager for Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Senior Planning offers free services to seniors regarding care and community placement. Max has written about aging for Huffington Post, Forbes, and more.

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