Not so long ago, moving closer to your kids meant narrowing the distance and allowing you more time with your offspring and grandkids.
Now it means “moving in” — literally.
According to analysis by the Pew Research Center, about one in eight Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising children and caring for at least one parent. There is a reason the term “sandwich generation” was added to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. With so many women postponing having children until they are well into 30s, it also has generated another layer of care, that for their parents. Members of the sandwich generation may be separated by several decades, but the emotional and financial drain of caring for two completely different “dependents” can be a daunting task.
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million. And those elderly often need supervision and care, which often is assumed by a family member.
Multigenerational households are defined as those with two or more adult generations or those that include grandparents raising grandchildren.
As a result, you are seeing a great shift in the composition of households in America. At its low in the 1970s, the number of multigenerational homes has now been steadily increasing in the United States, according to the Pew Research Institute. In 2014, it hit an all-time high of 60.6 million households. Multigenerational households are defined as those with two or more adult generations or those that include grandparents raising grandchildren.
The number of three generation families has been rising as well. Grandparents and their children and grandchildren accounted for 26.9 million Americans, roughly one in 11. That figure will no doubt leap as baby boomers get older.
Regardless of the reasons for bringing a grandparent (or grandparents) into your home — comfort, health reasons, financial — it’s wise to recognize the pros and cons of such a move.
Study after study has proven the positive impact of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. Research by Professor Ann Buchanan from the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford (U.K.)showed that a high level of grandparental involvement increases the well-being of children. A study of more than 1,500 children showed that those with a high level of grandparental involvement had fewer emotional and behavioral problems. From helping with their care to providing monetary and emotional support, there is no question this bond is beneficial to the well-being of all involved.
A high level of grandparental involvement increases the well-being of children, according to a study.
This goes beyond the occasional free babysitting. Intergenerational relationships help create strong family bonds, establish memories, enhance social and emotional intelligence and augment knowledge. These interactions benefit not only the child but the grandparents as well.
Facing difficult financial scenarios with aging parents weighs heavily on the shoulders of the sandwich generation. The costs associated with aging are staggering. Two years ago, SeniorHomes.com indicated the median cost of an assisted living facility in Denver was $3,450; memory care units were in the $4,259 range. Having gone through this scenario with my mother who recently passed away, I can attest the price tag is well north of these statistics. And you can count on the cost rising every year.
Many homebuilders are now offering multigenerational floor plans and homes, integrating the “granny” living space into the home with its own entrance, living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. Some even include a private porch and separate garage.
Homebuilders are recognizing these trends, however, and many are now offering multigenerational floor plans and homes. These designs are not the typical carriage house or apartment over the garage. Instead, the designs integrate the “granny” living space into the home with its own entrance, living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette. Some even include a private porch and separate garage.
According to a New York Times article, Lennar was one of the first major homebuilders to recognize this untapped market and delved into it five years ago in a Phoenix community. Two years ago, it sold 1,100 “NextGen homes. Although it represents only 5 percent of its sales, Jeff Roos, regional president of Lennar, thinks “it will be even more popular five years from now,” as baby boomers age into their 60s and 70s.
In the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver, Lennar offers the “Generations Collection” which features separate living quarters on the main floor but incorporates access to the 3,000 square foot home. Privacy is maintained with a separate porch and entrance, bedroom and bath, living area and kitchenette. All the family members can take advantage of the 50 parks, 38 miles of biking and walking trails, multiple swimming pools and year-round community events.
These types of arrangements can have enormous fiscal advantages. Instead of money being dumped into assisted living situations, grandparents can use that money to help offset mortgages and gain a sense of purpose in their golden years by helping with grandchildren and assisting with other chores around the house. Furthermore, the adult children have greater peace of mind that their parents are safe, eating right and receiving good care.
It goes without saying that whether you are considering moving grandma into your home or pondering buying a “NextGen”’ type house, a conversation must ensue to make sure everyone is on the same page. Setting expectations is critical is making a “cooperative” living arrangement work, whether there is a separate apartment or not. Make sure everyone wants the new living situation to work.
Because we all know that home is where the heart is!