Rozanski: Seniors moving in — too close for comfort?Written by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
It’s happening in the White House and in homes throughout the Greater Toledo area. When President Barack Obama’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, settled in with her family in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, they became part of a growing national trend.
The increasing number of seniors now living under the same roof with at least one other generation is more than just political news. According to a recent survey conducted for the local company Home Instead Senior Care, 43 percent of adult caregivers in the U.S. ages 35 to 62 reside with the parent, stepparent or older relative for whom they or someone else in their household provides care. The U.S. Census Bureau confirms this growing trend: In 2000, 2.3 million older parents were living with their adult children; by 2007, that number had jumped to 3.6 million — a 55 percent increase.
Several factors are driving this trend. We see families coming together to share family caregiving duties for economic reasons and emotional support. Sometimes the seniors need care, but in other instances the older adults could be providing care to their own grandchildren.
Seniors may feel they need the emotional support of an extended family and, in these difficult economic times, financial assistance. Regardless of the reasons, combining households is a big decision. Some families may decide that maintaining separate residences is the best alternative.
The challenges that can arise from intergenerational living have prompted Home Instead Senior Care to launch a public education campaign to help families determine if living together is a good idea. It will also provide tips on how to make such an arrangement work well for seniors as well as their family caregivers if they do decide to combine households.
This campaign will help adult children begin to address such issues as the stress of caregiving under one roof, adapting a home for two or more generations and merging household finances.
At the center of the campaign is a handbook, available free from Home Instead Senior Care, which addresses the emotional, financial, comfort and safety aspects of intergenerational living.
The handbook was compiled with the assistance of three national experts: Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., Penn. State University Intergenerational Programs extension specialist; Adriane Berg, CEO of Generation Bold and a consultant on reaching baby boomers and seniors; and Dan Bawden, founder of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists program for the National Association of Home Builders.
A website, www.makewayformom.com, provides additional support and information, including a calculator that will help families compute and compare whether living together or maintaining separate residences is the best financial option.
In addition, the website features a virtual tour of an intergenerational home where visitors can hear from a real family and see firsthand how they’ve adapted their home.
Kaplan said families should approach decisions of combining households from a partnership perspective.
“Ask yourself, ‘Can I get the whole family behind the idea?,’” Kaplan said. “When a decision is made to combine families, expectations must be set right away. Family members must listen and become engaged in conversation. The more the entire family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas. People need independence, but seeking interdependence and family unity are important as well, particularly in today’s hectic and demanding world.”
For a copy of the free handbook, “Too Close for Comfort,” contact the Greater Toledo Home Instead Senior Care office by calling (419) 472-8181 or by visiting www.homeinstead.com/324.
Scott A. Rozanski is CEO of the Home Instead Senior Care franchises in the Greater Toledo area.