Housing is one of the most important considerations with regard to senior care as people age and become less able to fully care for themselves. For many families, this entails either sending elderly loved ones to senior care homes or hiring a caregiver to visit them at home. But in recent years, intergenerational living has become a viable, and perhaps desirable, option. In addition to the many complex social, economic, and cultural changes, how will intergenerational housing affect elderly care?
Intergenerational housing is the concept of multiple generations, seniors, middle-aged, young adults, and children, all living together in a single environment rather than separately. This concept has moved beyond the home and is also applied to entire living communities.
The economic boom after World War II, which included subsidized suburban housing and increased funding for nursing homes, allowed people to buy homes and move their loved ones into senior care homes. Multigenerational housing became less common, but is currently rising again.
Many factors are behind the rise of intergenerational housing: the housing market collapse, the shifting of cultural and social views about living with your parents, and an understanding of the need for proper mental care of seniors (especially relating to isolation, dementia, and depression) has become more well-known.
As a result of these various factors, more Americans are buying homes with the idea of housing either an elderly loved one when the need arises, or adult children. The benefits make sense: everyone saves money and families are better able to connect and bond with each other when living together.
Many cities and communities have wide roads, consist of single-family homes, and are spread out, assuming that most people have cars. For seniors who already may struggle with a lack of mobility, this design makes transportation to appointments, errands, or social visits more difficult. New Urbanism is a new type of community design that emphasizes walkability, green spaces, and multigenerational living.
One of the major difficulties that seniors face is loneliness, and a house or town that is designed to allow people to navigate easily by walking helps resolve loneliness. The emphasis on walking and public transportation allows seniors to maintain mobility and better engage with other people and their communities.
Many families can make adjustments in the home design or accessibility to improve senior care and living. Grab bars in a bathroom, both near the toilet and in the shower, help elderly family members stay safe on the often wet, slippery surfaces. Other mobility aids such as threshold ramps, lift chairs, and bed rails all make basic actions much easier for seniors. Designing spaces, such as living rooms that allow seniors to stay on their feet while connecting with others also helps seniors in multigenerational houses.
The future of senior housing is still somewhat uncertain. Multigenerational housing is obviously growing, and new home products and urban design movements are making intergenerational living easier for many people. For now, intergenerational housing appears to be a bigger part of elderly care in the future.
As senior care professionals, we recognize how difficult caring for an elderly loved one full time can be. Even if you are considering intergenerational housing, you may need help in order to have the right care all the time. Families of seniors still need to take care of younger family members, and they need to be able to work to provide for the family. Neighborly Home Care can help. We offer 24-hour home health care services in Philadelphia, as well as respite or part-time care. Our caregivers know how to care for seniors suffering from dementia and will help provide the supervision and assistance needed to allow your loved ones to live a full life safely. Contact us to book your free consultation and learn about our services.