Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The return of the multi-generational household

The following paragraph indicates an interesting trend in family households, which may also be increasing in New Zealand.

The number of Americans living in two-adult-generation households grew from 28 million in 1980 to 49 million in 2008, with 25% of Baby Boomers expecting to live with their parents again; and the recession has accelerated the trend. Supporting both parents and children takes a major emotional and financial toll, with the average yearly cost of supporting an aging parent at $5,534 and the yearly cost of supporting adult children at $7,660. But 76% of those helping a relative say they enjoy it, and 54% have bonded with their loved one more than they anticipated.

The first sentence is a bit unclear, but basically we're talking here about a member of the grandparent generation moving back in with one of their children and that child's family. Or the three-generational group moving into a different house together.

We were blessed when our children were growing up to have my mother living with us. She had her own living area upstairs, her own bathroom and a small kitchen. The enormous benefits this gave to our children are too many to count. It was also great to have a built-in babysitter (!)

However, this won't work in every situation, and it can be an awful burden for some. Still, my intuition is that it's
healthier for the older person to live with their family. Even older people living in their own homes are healthier than older people living in rest homes. People who go into rest homes seem to deteriorate faster than those who don't.

It turns out my intuition is backed up in the report the paragraph at the top of this post relates to. One of the findings was:

Older adults who live alone are less healthy and they more often feel sad or depressed than their counterparts who live with a spouse or with others. These correlations stand up even after controlling for demographic factors such as gender, race, age, income and education.

The report is called: The Return of the Multi-Generational Household. It is presented by the PewResearch Centre, and came out in March 2010.

Photo by Dianna, on Flickr.com

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