5 Tips for Successful Multigenerational Family Living

Grandparents moving in? How to make a situation like this work for everyone in the family.

- Posted on Nov 26, 2019

Three generations of the same family

More than 60 million Americans live in a household of two or more adult generations, the Pew Research Center notes. In many families, such as Maryanne Curran’s, caregiving is also involved. That can increase the tensions that arise when several age groups live under one roof. What things help make multigenerational living a positive experience? Home Instead Senior Care worked with aging and caregiving experts to develop these questions and tips:

Can your family treat the arrangement as a partnership? Before combining households, think about how well everyone’s personalities mesh. Discuss everything from chores to activities to privacy. Each family member should give input.

Does living together make financial sense? “Make sure there is enough income among family members so all bills can be paid,” Home Instead Senior Care gerontologist and caregiver advocate Lakelyn Hogan says. A financial planner can help you set up a household budget. Some experts suggest splitting expenses, as roommates do, if family members are of sound mind and able to contribute.

Can you set expectations and boundaries? Make responsibilities clear, so everyone understands how they fit into the family caregiving plan, says Penn State professor Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., who specializes in intergenerational programs. He advises addressing issues as they arise, rather than letting resentment build. Ask adult siblings and extended family for help. Considering professional respite care? Call (866) 996-1085 or go to homeinstead.com/guideposts for a free consultation.

Does each family member have private space? “The best setup is separate quarters,” says Dan Bawden, founder of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists program for the National Association of Home Builders. “Another option is an attached or detached apartment off the back of the house, preferably on ground level.” No budget to remodel? Try partitions in an existing space.

How can you build family unity? Routines, rituals and traditions—family movie night or Sunday dinners—draw everyone closer. To deepen relationships, build on common interests. For Maryanne Curran and her mom, it was watching Jeopardy! together. What does your family enjoy doing together? It could be anything: watching sports, reading devotionals, being out in nature.

For more tools and resources on aging in place and family caregiving, visit caregiverstress.com.

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