How can seniors remain out of care facilities longer? How can you remain closer to your parents without the expensive cost of finding a home near yours? The answer you’re looking for may be a multigenerational dwelling—adding on to your existing home to better accommodate your needs. More people are entering old age than ever before and because of this, multigenerational homes have gained in popularity. As seniors age, they and their families are faced with difficult decisions of how to provide the best care possible. Ideally, seniors would love to remain in their own homes, but there a number of reasons this sometimes isn’t possible. Most commonly money is an issue, waning health, or loved ones living too far away in case of an emergency. The next best option to living alone is living with their children or other immediate family members.
According to “Aging alone in America,” written by NYU professor Eric Klinenberg, one third of older Americans are choosing to remain independent. With medical advancements and healthier lifestyles, living alone is a possibility and living with a family member is not the burden it used to be. As people grow older, living in a familiar place, with those they love, helps alleviate depression or disorientation that can occur in aging facilities. Furthermore, with multigenerational living you can avoid the guilt and long-lasting arguments that frequently occur when parents are forced into homes they do not want to be in. Unlike much of the rest of the world, Americans tend to live separate from their elders. This can often be perceived by older people as pushing them away or not wanting to deal with them. With the recent economy shift, however, young people are commonly staying in their parents’ homes longer and older people are moving back in with their children. How European of us!
Beyond the obvious cost benefits, living at home can help your parents remain healthy, both physically and emotionally, by keeping with a routine. Housekeeping, yard work, and cooking are all forms of physical and mental exercise that patients do not receive in places like assisted living centers. Once people have been retired for quite some time, they often lose the routine that kept them healthy. Doing small things around the house to keep active can help reduce what is called aging atrophy, eventually leading to a greater dependence on those around them. With your parents in a suite attached to your house, they can perform the cleaning duties or homecare activities you might not have time to do yourself. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Lastly, living in a familiar place allows seniors to more easily control their environments. The house can be as clean as they like and they are able to decide which people they want to see, if any. At facilities, residents are required to see nurses, other residents, and sometimes other residents’ families. As always, if your loved one begins to require too much care to healthily live with, you should look into home-health services or other living options. Aging can often be a time of making major decisions, but keeping parents close can hopefully alleviate some of that stress.
Jacob Edward is the manager of both Prime Medical Alert and Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Prime Medical Alert allows seniors to stay in their homes longer and is one of the leading suppliers of Arizona medical alerts. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State’s Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe, Arizona.