How To Bring Families Together In A Multigenerational Home

Family is everything.  We spend our entire lives being cared for and caring for our family.  Now more than ever, middle-aged Americans find themselves a part of what’s known as the “sandwich generation.”   As a result, a multigenerational home is necessary when faced with caring for children while simultaneously caring for aging parents.  Several factors may include health issues, the economy, and culture that bring generations together under one roof.  Living through a pandemic has also caused a need for multigenerational living.  Whether families are faced with job loss or wanting to avoid the isolation of social distancing from family, the real estate market has had an increase in buyers looking for a multigenerational home to accommodate their loved ones.

There Are Many Benefits To Living In A Multigenerational Home

Whether you’re considering buying or building a multigenerational home, there are many things to consider.  Some of the most beneficial reasons for living in a multigenerational home are important to include in the decision process.

Multigenerational Home Savings

Allowing adult offspring to save on living expenses can be a big help to them.  Whether it’s to save money for their nest egg while starting a lower-income job or to help them recover from a job loss or divorce, it can help.  If your children are still young, having retired parents living with you can help save on daycare and babysitting.  Perhaps it could mean sharing in the mortgage and utility expenses with your loved ones.  There are many financial benefits to be considered, depending on your family circumstances.

Sharing Homeowner Responsibilities 

Having extra family around can be an asset for sharing household chores.  Delegating the workload to those who can best do them can free up time for everyone.  Perhaps Grandpa isn’t able to do the yard work or home maintenance due to mobility issues,  but the younger generation can tackle those duties.  Having extra sets of hands in the kitchen can also help make mealtime and clean-up easier.  

Multigenerational Family Bonding

Older adults often feel isolated and lonely when they live on their own, especially if they can’t get out much due to declining health.  Being close to family can make them feel safer and less depressed or anxious.  Another benefit is to have the older generation around for the children.  Growing up with loving grandparents as role models can help with behavioral issues because of the love and attention received.

Consider Everyone’s Privacy

One of the most significant considerations of multigenerational living is the perceived lack of privacy.  It’s essential to allow all adults and each generation their own private living space.  More often, the elderly parents do not want to feel like a burden or invade on their family’s space.  If adult children move back into the family home, they must maintain some independence by having their own living space.  Whether you are buying or building, consider these ideas to design your multigenerational home.

Separate Entrances For A Multigenerational Home

Allowing each generation to have their own private entrance to their living quarters offers the independence and freedom to have guests over.  It also grants access to enter their own space while providing privacy to the rest of the household.  In-law suites can be attached or detached from the home, providing that feeling of having a separate home.  Younger adults who may work various shifts can come and go early in the morning or late at night without disturbing the the household.  

Consider Accessibility In The Layout 

When aging parents or a family member with disabilities live in the home, it’s essential to consider their needs and comfort.  For instance, bed and bath options on the main floor to alleviate stairs and accommodate wheelchairs may be a need at some point.  Wider doors will help those using a walker or wheelchair to get around with ease.  Bathrooms should also have a standing shower that can fit a shower chair for the elderly if needed, as well as a bathtub for young children.  Having each generation in their private living quarters with a bathroom is the perfect solution.  Additionally, you may want to consider a small kitchen in the suite to allow that generation to make and prepare their meals apart from others in the household.

Spacious Common Areas 

Ironically, it defeats the purpose of multigenerational living if everyone goes off into their private quarters most of the time.  You can create spacious common areas such as a great room, large dining room, and spacious kitchen areas as a solution.  Visiting and dining together will bring all of the generations together to enjoy family bonding time.  

Organization Is A Must

It’s important to get organized when bringing multiple generations into your home. Labeling items can help everyone know what belongs to whom.  Also, maintaining separate medications and keeping them out of reach of children should be a top priority.   Lastly organizing bills and paperwork by family members can keep things in an orderly fashion.  If multiple families are living at one address, you’ll need to sort mail properly.

The final thing to remember about multigenerational living is to enjoy your time with family both together and apart.  Many families are coming together, not just by need but by choice.  Talk to each generation about expectations and what it will be like to live together.  Set appropriate boundaries according to everyone’s needs and stick to them.  If the the living arrangement is a peaceful solution to each generation’s needs, everyone will benefit.  If you are in the process of preparing to accommodate your extended family, you’ll want to start building your plan of action now.


Contributing Author:  Melissa Momcilovich

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