Multigenerational Living and Caring are Coming Back

It might be to save money or to take care of an ailing loved one; it may be family tradition. Whatever the reason, multigenerational living and care planning are back on the rise in the U.S.

Multigenerational living is three or more generations residing under the same roof. Although it is considered a standard living arrangement in most of the world, the practice lost favor in the U.S. after World War II. In the 1940s, about 25% of the U.S. population lived in a mutigenerational household; by the 1980s, that number had dropped to 12%. But by 2021, the popularity of multigenerational living had rebounded significantly. At that time, 18% or 59.7 million residents lived with family members from different generations.

Caregiving is often a part of multigenerational living, whether it be childcare or caring for an older relative. And everyone in a multigenerational household gets involved, including younger people. A recent report sponsored by AARP revealed that 6% of unpaid caregivers were born in 1996 or later. It’s also estimated that there are an additional 3.4 million caregivers younger than 18 who help.

The long-term benefits of multigenerational living and caring are varied and significant. For example, multigenerational living leads to higher college attendance, more women in jobs, and greater social mobility. Capital can grow because of shared expenses. Connections with the community can increase, translating into a broader shared network of support from the physical to the mental and emotional.

Still, intergenerational caregiving can be tough. Although there is great joy and satisfaction from assisting loved ones, sacrifices are often made. Brandon Feldt, who takes care of his mother with dementia and recently won Carewell’s “Gen Z Caregiver Hero” award, knows about that first hand. He told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “When you turn down people to hang out, after so many times, people naturally stop asking and stop offering.”

The good news is that we at Windward Life Care can support multigenerational care so everyone gets a quality of life they need. Our Aging Life Care Managers® are health and human services specialists whose expertise includes nursing, social work, rehabilitation, mental health, and dementia care, and training on issues related to aging and disability. And our care teams provide services from home care to health care. Altogether, we provide many types of support for our clients and respite for their family members.

Multigenerational living—and the caregiving that goes along with it—is popular throughout the world for a good reason: It creates more space for meaningful interactions amongst loved ones. When done thoughtfully, and with help, it can ensure that both the cared for and the caregivers have a fuller life.