Although many older adults today seem to find their grown children returning home after completing their education, losing a job or going through a divorce, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, more parents are also moving in with their adult children.
This trend, along with adults who are cohabitating without a romantic relationship, is on the rise. Nearly 79 million adults in the United States or 31.9 per cent of the adult population live in a shared household, up from 27.4 per cent in 2004. A shared household consists of adults who are not married or romantically involved living together; in many cases adult children and their parent or parents.
Why the steady rise in shared housing? Cost of course is a primary concern for adults aging in place but multiple generations living in one household can also provide added the benefits of built-in child care or help with cooking and chores for busy working parents. And older adults will have live-in support should they fall ill or be injured. Shared households can also help prevent seniors from becoming socially isolated or depressed living alone.
When blending households, it’s important to clearly lay out expectations concerning privacy, expenses and duties in the home well in advance to help smooth the transition. It’s likely there will be a few bumps in the road as new roles fall into place; patience and good communication will be essential to a successful merging of independent adults. A family therapist who specializes in geriatric issues can teach families how to communicate better and avoid stressful situations or help children understand their place in the new dynamic.
With the shifting population demographic, it’s expected that more older adults will participate in shared living of some form. Common among nonwhite adults, rising housing and long-term care costs, combined with less retirement savings and greater longevity in a rapidly aging population will likely translate into more multigenerational households across the board.