Strong Families: 5 Tips for Multigenerational Living

Three generations living under one roof is an arrangement that presents challenges. Here are some tips to help you navigate what can be a touchy situation.


- Posted on Sep 26, 2016

A family of three generations resides together

The D’Amour family is part of a growing trend. More than 57 million Americans live in multigenerational households, according to the Pew Research Center. With several age groups under one roof, there are bound to be strains. There are also ways to make multigenerational living a positive experience. Home Instead Senior Care worked with a team of experts to develop these tips:

Communication is the key. Before combining households, discuss everything from chores to bills to privacy. What are you concerned about? What are you looking forward to? Each family member should give their input.

Be money wise. Does moving in together make sense financially? Home Instead Senior Care and Adriane Berg, author of 13 books on personal finance, created a calculator to help families make an informed decision. Go to caregiverstress.com/moneywise to use this tool.

Share expenses like roommates if the senior is of sound mind and can afford to contribute. “Write two checks to the mortgage company, for instance, or alternate paying the mortgage each month,” Berg suggests.

Make the home safe for all ages. Dan Bawden, founder of the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist program for the National Association of Home Builders, recommends these affordable measures: Replace doorknobs with lever handles. Switch to low-pile carpet (easier to clean and safer for walkers and wheelchairs). Install grab bars in the shower and tub.

Set expectations and boundaries, advises Penn State’s Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., an expert on intergenerational programs. Responsibilities should be clear—put them in writing, if needed—so everyone understands how they fit into the household. Think of boundaries not as rigid rules but as loving limits. Meet regularly to make sure things are still working. Be honest and don’t let resentment build up.

“Address issues when they arise,” Kaplan says. “Ask yourself, ‘What can we do to come together and figure things out?’”

Get the help you need. Ask adult siblings to chip in. If you’re considering professional respite care, contact Home Instead Senior Care at (866) 996-1085 or homeinstead.com/guideposts for a free consultation. The IRS’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help. For legal advice, try the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ attorney locator at naela.org.

For more tips on multigenerational living, search intergenerational at caregiverstress.com.

Tags: Family
View Comments