Establishing a Thriving Multi-generational Household
As the baby boomer generation gets older, more families are making a shift to multi-generational households. You might want to take care of your aging parents, or you might be moving back in with your parents as a millennial or Gen Zer trying to save on rent. There are a variety of situations that could contribute to combining households and bringing multiple people together under one roof.
Whatever the case, it’s important to know how to thrive in this type of multi-generational environment.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few tips you can put into practice right away to ensure safety and accessibility to people of various ages and needs. We’ll also cover how you can foster a sense of community within your household and build connections across generations.
Making Your Home Accessible
If you’re moving your parents, grandparents, or other older adults into your home, one of the most important things to consider is accessibility. The older a person gets, the more common certain health risks become, including:
● Hearing loss;
● Vision problems/cataracts;
● Back and neck pain;
● Mobility issues.
Making your home safe and accessible for everyone is an important factor in ensuring comfortable and safe living. Thankfully, adding accessibility features is easier than you might think. Some of the most basic home modifications that can make a big difference, especially for people with mobility issues, include:
● Wedge ramps;
● Wheelchair ramps;
● Railings and grab bars;
● Non-slip floors;
● Adequate lighting.
Bathroom renovations, kitchen renovations, and even bedroom modifications like these can all make life easier and more comfortable for aging individuals. Assess their needs and consider what would improve their lifestyle while keeping them safe.
Designate a Space
It can sometimes be difficult for older adults to step away from their own homes because it feels like they’re losing independence. They might also worry about loneliness and isolation in a home that isn’t their own, or feel like they’re somehow becoming a “burden” by moving in with you. Giving them their own space can help with that. If you’re moving people into your home, consider designating a room for them where they can go to enjoy their own TV shows, store their things, and feel like they have their own “home away from home”.
Additionally, this can offer everyone a sense of privacy and independence. It will also help everyone to keep things organized so no one’s belongings get mixed up or lost. You’ll still be available to help them if it’s needed, but they’ll have enough of their own space to know you don’t have to watch over them 24 hours a day.
Form a Community in your Multi-generational Household
While having separate spaces and doing your own things are both important, it’s just as essential for all members of the household to enjoy quality time together. You could learn a lot from your parents or anyone from previous generations, and they’re likely interested in learning a lot from you, too.
You can enjoy spending time together while encouraging hobbies that might benefit your aging “roommates”. It’s not uncommon for aging adults to struggle with memory and concentration. You can help to keep their minds active and even boost your own memory by trying some of the following hobbies together:
● Playing instruments;
● Learning a new language;
● Playing word games;
● Drawing and painting;
You could also consider having an in-house “book club” where you both come together once a week to discuss what you’re reading, or just to chat about what’s been going on in your lives.
All of the above hobbies can foster intergenerational communication. Not only will you be learning new skills and enjoying yourself, but you might learn things about your aging family members that you never knew before.
There are many benefits to sharing a household with multiple generations. Not only will everyone save money and have to do less individual work to keep up with household chores, but it can bring you closer to your loved ones. Consider living in a multi-generational household to be an opportunity, rather than an obligation. While your living situation likely won’t be the same forever, being able to share a space with people who have experienced a different “era” can be an eye-opening experience and one you shouldn’t take for granted.