Multigenerational Households Help Diminish Isolation of Caregiving

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by Ray Burow |

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Caregiving can be easier and less isolating in a multigenerational household.

These households have two or more generations living under one roof. Adults in them are primarily 25 years or older, but skipped-generation households (ones with grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25) are included in the demographic as well. Of course, this would also include the sandwich generation — adults who care for children and elderly individuals simultaneously.

Kids are moving back home. College graduates, professionals, and even married couples are finding their way back to Mom and Dad’s house in record numbers. In the past 50 years, the share of Americans living in multigenerational homes has doubled. Nearly 60 million residents live in multigenerational households.

There are multiple reasons why the demographic is four times greater than in the 1970s, when more kids moved out and stayed out. The current economy and the COVID-19 pandemic are contributors to the present migration.

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Multigenerational living is a good thing

Moving back home can be positive, and not just for financial reasons. Yes, it’s less affordable for kids with mountainous student loans to purchase a home or pay rent in the present economy, but moving back into your parents’ house isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

We need to change our perspective on kids beyond college-age living at home. They aren’t failing-to-thrive moochers preferring to live off their parents. At least not in many cases. They just happen to be fortunate to have parents willing to give a bit of support through difficult times — and as it happens, that support goes both ways.

Adult children are a blessing in caregiving

If you’re a caregiver, as I am, and have adult children living at home, count your blessings.

Caregiving is isolating, especially if the person you’re caring for has Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. So when the pandemic and the current economic condition sent a couple of kids back home to us, it was a godsend. They had trepidation at first, fearing what people would say or think of them if they moved back, to which my husband and I responded, “Who cares?”

Gratefully, my children are responsible individuals, living on the second floor and working from home, and I get to share a pot of coffee with them each morning before our day gets pumping.

One of the kids is a horse trainer, and her grandmother, who’s in our care, loves the interaction with the kids, but also an occasional horse visit. Another daughter, an artist, cuts her grandmother’s hair and keeps her informed about the tomatoes she tends within view of her grandma’s chair.

Blessings often come through trials, and my kids’ difficulties became our blessing. But these times are fleeting and won’t last forever. That’s a good and bad thing. Soon enough, Grandma will be stuck with just my husband and me, and I’ll be writing with the dog at my feet and a cup of coffee within reach to drink alone.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a multigenerational household of adults, the following tips might help you manage.

  • Treat your kids like adults, which they are. Respect them as such.
  • Discuss responsibilities. You’re a caregiver, but not to your children.
  • Discuss your role as it relates to the person you care for. How or will your kids be involved?
  • Be careful not to take advantage of one another.
  • Embrace the opportunity to have a whole house with added caregiver support, without isolation.
  • Embrace. Enjoy. Repeat.

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

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