A female caregiver helping a senior female hold a baby inside a house with two female family members standing on either side, inside of a home's front door. A female caregiver helping a senior female hold a baby inside a house with two female family members standing on either side, inside of a home's front door.

Making the Most of Multigenerational Living

According to a recent report by Pew Research, more people are living in multigenerational households than any time since 1971.

There are several reasons for this trend. First, the number of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly. According to the United States Census Bureau, when the baby boomer generation will be at least 65 years old or older in 2030, older adults will make up 21% of the population. That means older adults will outnumber children for the first time in American history.

While the “graying of America” is an undeniable demographic transformation with its own implications for healthcare and caregiving, it’s also true that young adults are just as likely to live with their parents as older adults are to live with their grown children. These “boomerang kids” are adult children who move back to their parents’ home after college or time spent living on their own. The rising costs of housing, inflation, and student loans are all contributing factors. It’s also true that generations are getting along better than they have in the past. Parents of millennials may be more open to accepting their kids’ lifestyles than previous generations.

Whether they are providing care for a relative, or receiving childcare from a family member, one-third of adults in multigenerational households say that caregiving is a major reason for their living arrangement. The current costs of childcare make grandparents-as-babysitters an attractive option to working couples with young children. To make that work, families may build extensions on their homes or move to a larger home to accommodate their parents.

When the aging mother with dementia of one of the owners of Right at Home Northwest needed additional care to remain in her household in Virginia, the owners started exploring whether she could live with them on their property near Lake Samish. Their current residence was not suited to someone that would need single-level living space so the explored the option of converting a storage building on the property into an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU. In the end, the owners decided that a room in a nearby assisted living with a dedicated caregiver from our staff would be the best option as care was needed right away. The owners then started to consider whether an ADU would be their best bet for staying in their property as they age; using the ADU as living quarters for a groundskeeper, handyman, or and or cook/caregiver.

ADUs are becoming an increasingly popular way of providing an affordable option for multi-generational living here in the Pacific Northwest. An ADU is a separate living quarters located on the same lot and either detached from or included within a primary residence and it has provisions for sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.

Senior property owners can build or convert a garage into an ADUs to provide living quarters for someone who can provide them with care and assistance or an adult child or relative might build an ADU for their aging parents so that they can provide them care when needed while allowing the parent(s) to preserve their independent living arrangements.

To explore ADU options in Skagit county, contact Skagit County Planning & Development Services at 360-416-1320 or email them at pds@co.skagit.wa.us or visit their website at www.skagitcounty.net/planning

While multigenerational living can be richly rewarding and is the norm for many families, it takes some effort. It may not be the right choice for every family. Participating in a family caregiver arrangement can be stressful, and not just for the caregiver alone. It has the potential to affect family relationships. Will you resent that your mother gets to stay home all day playing with the baby? Could your relationship with your grandfather change if you need to help him shower and use the bathroom? Will your uncle begin to resent you if you make decisions about his diet?

It’s an important decision, and not to be made hastily. Planning ahead gives your family the best chance of making it work.

Here are some things to consider if you or a family member are considering consolidating households:

  • Is this a long-term or temporary situation?
  • How will living spaces be allocated?
  • Can your home accommodate varied lifestyles?
  • How will expenses be shared?
  • Who will do what?
  • Will there be generational clashes?
  • Who will provide care?

Planning and clear communication are the keys to making multigenerational living situations work. Contact Right at Home Northwest Washington to learn about the resources we have to make this a smooth transition for you and your loved ones.

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Need help right now? Call us anytime at

(360) 392-3934

Need help right now? Call us anytime at

(360) 392-3934