Baby boomers are sandwiched between their aging parents and their millennial kids. Are they living in multigenerational homes as a result?
Baby boomers are living more often in multigenerational households. It is likely that a 65-year-old boomer will have their 82-year-old parent and the same boomer’s adult child living under the same roof. A baby boomer may even have their own grandchild living with them, housing 4 generations.
Multigenerational homes are a growing phenomenon and baby boomers are right in the thick of it. But how does that all work? I’ll take a look at why it’s happening and how it’s working.
Baby Boomers Combining Families is More Than a Trend
A new kind of family is forming. It’s not the nuclear anymore, it’s the multigenerational. And it is more than a trend. This is a shift in cultural views. Whereas in the past independence was the battle cry of Americans, now it’s interdependence.
This is the reality the Baby boomers are dealing with. They are caring for their parents. Many are adding attached apartments to their homes. The ones who can afford it are building cottages on their property. Others are just opening the door and letting mom, dad or both move in.
But that’s not the only migration to the boomer’s home. Their adult children are also moving in. Regardless of the reason, sons, daughters and sometimes their spouses are heading to mom and dad’s house. Apartments over the garage are becoming the chic add on.
Baby boomers have become the sandwich generation. They have aging parents on one side and millennial children on the other side. As a result, they’re caring for two, some sometimes three generations if their millennials have kids. This makes for a new dynamic in family living.
Why Baby Boomers are Merging Households
Two elements of life have created a cultural shift in America toward combining households. Life expectancy is increasing and income among young adults is trending downward. This has set the stage for multigenerational living.
Baby boomers are often the impetus in the decision to live this lifestyle. They’re the ones with the house big enough or in some cases the income to accommodate multiple generations.
There are various reasons for this cultural shift. These include:
- Physical and psychological health
All four reasons work together to create a need and desire for multigenerational living.
Economics of Multigenerational Living
Most families don’t think about it, but they are an economic unit—a powerful unit. When you bring two or more generations together, you can combine assets to fund a comfortable lifestyle. This includes not only physical housing, but the ancillary expenses that go along with it.
Combining financial resources to build an addition to the house or just make senior living adjustments, makes sense. Going on to share household expenses makes even more sense.
Most seniors are on a fixed income, be it high or low, it can be counted on. If a baby boomer is still working, there’s also steady income. This is a solid base to assist with ongoing financial planning.
Many millennials, unfortunately, have low paying jobs. The pandemic hit them the hardest. The result is that many have experienced job loss. They just can’t afford to live on their own. And although they can’t contribute a lot, many are either paying rent or some sort of stipend to their boomer parents.
Financial Arrangements Must be Made
When a millennial or any adult child moves into their parents’ home, there needs to be a pre-agreed arrangement to define how the increased expenses will be met. Put down on paper what each person’s contribution will be. It doesn’t have to always be a monetary contribution; it could be something as simple as mowing the grass or doing the dishes. You decide; but whatever is agreed to, put it in writing.
Conversely if it’s an aging parent moving in with their boomer child, the financial arrangements need to be agreed to upfront and written down. Nothing causes more angst in a family than finances. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
Security Has Various Meanings to the Generations
There are several items that come to mind when considering security. For the baby boomer securing their home may have a slightly different meaning than an aging parent. Baby boomers consider:
- Outdoor cameras
- Outdoor lighting
And all of these are important to all generations, but it goes a little deeper than that for an aging parent.
Security and safety go hand in hand. An aging parent needs a secure home, but they also need a safe home. Some items that need to be addressed are:
- Grab bars
- Flooring, or loose rugs
- Indoor lighting
- Tub or shower
- Height of toilet
- Wider doors
All of these and more need to be adjusted to create a safe and secure environment for an aging parent. This includes preparing the house so the baby boomer will be safe one day as well.
Millennials moving back may also be looking for security. There’s safety in numbers. And living at home is a lot safer than getting a roommate you don’t know. It also beats living in a questionable neighborhood because you can’t afford anything nicer. And finally, there’s the condition of the millennial’s financial circumstances. They usually don’t have the funds to live on their own.
Physical and Psychological Health
The benefit of baby boomers opening their doors to their parents and children is a healthier lifestyle.
It gives the boomer a chance to monitor the health of their aging parent. And let’s face it, your aging mom and dad may not be taking care of themselves on their own. For the boomers, there’s less stress worrying about their parents’ living conditions and lifestyle.
The psychological impact of aging can be devastating to some people. Loneliness and consequently depression may develop. And it’s not only the aging parent who feels this way. The baby boomer, now empty nester, may also be feeling some pangs of loneliness.
Millennials are not immune to the loneliness that comes with being on their own. This is especially true if the young adult was recently in a difficult break-up. Be it from a long-time partner or divorce, sometimes you just need mom and dad to help you emotionally get back on your feet.
Fellowship of Boomers Inviting Everyone Home
It’s human nature for people to come together in fellowship. That’s why everyone gathers around the table at Thanksgiving. We all want to be together. It makes sense to take it one step further and live together.
Love is a major motivating factor in choosing to live with each other. Yes, there are some conflicts, that is always going to be the case. But with strong communication and understanding hearts, these can be overcome.
Living Together Improves Each Generation
This cultural shift is not going away. Baby boomers are discovering that combining households makes sense. Independent living has evolved into interdependent living and the advantages benefit all. It has its perks and will create a family that has stronger ties.