A multigenerational household is a home where three or more generations of a family all live together. There are several common situations where this can occur. A young couple and their child may move in with their parents to save for their own home (52% of young adults are currently living with their parents). Or an elderly grandparent may move in with their children and grandchildren after selling their home.
Multigenerational housing, already on the upswing, was accelerated by pandemic conditions.
The pandemic has also resulted in more fluid arrangements for school, as children move between in-person and remote learning, creating more need for in-home childcare. Some grandparents are stepping up through mutually beneficial multigenerational living arrangements.
Multigenerational housing can be beneficial to all age groups. Not only can baby boomers look to their adult children for help with their own care, but also their children can often depend on them to help look after grandchildren.
Benefits For Young Adults
Many college graduates enter the workforce with staggering amounts of student loan debt. Along with a tight job market, rents are increasing and with rising interest rates, home ownership seems out of reach. Living with their parents can be mutually beneficial – they can save money towards home ownership, and parents have help around the house and share living expenses such as groceries.
Benefits For Families with Young Children
Families cite many benefits of living together, including:
Enhanced bonds or relationships among family members
Making it easier to provide for the care needs of one or more family members
Improved finances for at least one family member
Positive impacts on personal mental and/or physical health
Making it possible for at least one family member to continue school or enroll in job training
People who grow up in multigenerational households have higher levels of cognition. The sense of social support from a multigenerational family leads to better mental health as well.
“To always having someone to talk to; always have someone available to assist you in completing a task; to see, hear, and feel someone from another generation; to converse with them and get to know them; being exposed to their worldview – all of these things have had a significant impact on my life.”
Benefits For the Elderly
There are significant cognitive and emotional benefits for the elderly members of a multigenerational home as well. Loneliness and lack of stimulation and social connection are serious problems for aging adults living alone, especially as partners and friends become incapacitated or die. Being surrounded by the noise and interactions of family life and feeling a sense of meaning in playing a role in the household can preserve adaptability and help stave off cognitive decline and conditions such as depression that eat away at mental and physical health.
With more people living together, each will have less personal space than if they lived separately. Living with others may be more difficult for grandparents and young adults who are accustomed to living alone. The transition can be eased by allocating private space for each person where they can retreat when they need to and simple rules, like knocking on bedroom doors before entering.
Adults who are unaccustomed to being around children may need some adjustment time. Household rules can limit loud play by place and time.
More people means more dishes to wash, floors to clean more frequently and larger laundry loads. Sharing these tasks will go along way toward happy family dynamics.
Relationships among friends and family can fester when living together. Potential animosities should be considered and addressed before forming the household.