A multigenerational home is one where three or more generations of a family live together. With an ageing population, it is increasingly common for young families to share homes with their parents or grandparents. This is especially true for elderly parents who move in with their adult children.
Living in a multigenerational household has several benefits, including:
Increased familial bonds: Strong family bonds can be built through living together and getting to know each other well. Studies have shown that multigenerational living encourages elderly longevity and greatly enhances our quality of life . In multigenerational households, children tend to develop higher levels of cognition and receive stronger social and mental support from their families, leading to better mental health. . Multigenerational living also strengthens family values, preserves cultural traditions and provides stability for the children .
Enhanced mental wellness and better support for seniors: Seniors living alone are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact their mental health. Interacting with their family members could significantly reduce feelings of loneliness and depression by reminding them that they are not alone . In comparison with seniors living alone, those who maintain social connections with their family members tend to have a longer life expectancy and better health in the long run . Having their children around also provides a sense of security for the seniors, who may need assistance with the activities of daily living.
Eased financial burden: If you support your parents financially, you can save a lot of money on living expenses by staying together. With more adults living under one roof, there are more sources of income that go into financing the housing mortgage, expenses, utilities and more . Seniors moving in also saves on potential cost for nursing homes or senior care .
Shared responsibilities: Cooking, cleaning, and caring for children are some of the responsibilities that become easier when you live together. Grandparents can take on the role of babysitters and take care of the grandchildren when the parents are away at work . As role models for their grandchildren, the grandparents can share invaluable life experiences and impart life skills and knowledge, allowing the young ones to develop a broader perspective of life. .
Nonetheless, there are drawbacks of living in a multigenerational household, such as lesser privacy and increased probability of family conflicts. There are ways, however, to mitigate these challenges and encourage a harmonious living environment for everyone.
So, what are some tips to make such a living arrangement work?
Respect boundaries, rules, and space: We all need some form of privacy and space, and we do not always notice when we inadvertently invade someone else’s personal space. Make sure to establish mutual respect for each other’s privacy and personal space . For instance, if your family member has his/her room door closed, take the effort to knock first instead of simply barging in. If you live in a small space, you can take some time out by going for a stroll or doing your work outside.
Communicate thoughts and feelings openly: Conflicts could inevitably arise when you live with people of different ages, perspectives and personalities. Communicating openly, promptly and respectfully is crucial in addressing any conflicts, concerns or disagreements. It is important not to let any unhappiness fester and grow into resentment for each other . Even if it takes time and effort to initiate or have such conversations, trust that it will be beneficial to the situation and relationship.
Organise intergenerational bonding activities: Engaging in a shared activity can be a great way to bring the family together and lessen any possible tension. Some possible activities are watching a movie, going on a vacation or having a meal together fortnightly. Whether is it over food, sports, or entertainment, participating in a shared activity will greatly help to deepen family bonds.
Multigenerational living is an excellent way to foster family ties and provide for each other’s needs. To reap the benefits of it, respect each other’s boundaries and communicate openly. Incorporating these useful tips could help to create quality living for everyone and mitigate potential conflicts.
TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) aims to equip families with resources to face multi-faceted issues at different life stages. TIFG focuses on providing Resources to equip families to cope with different stressors, enabling families to strengthen Roles in transitions, and empower families to build Resilience. This is done through an integrated suite of services to support the family as a unit, with emphasis on education, intervention and advocacy.
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