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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 23 seconds

I often see trends in my practice. A recurrent one, and one worthy of talking about, is multigenerational living.

Grandma “Tuni”

Grandma Tuni

Grandma Tuni

As a kid, I recall my Grandma Fortune Levitch moving in for some rehabilitation of yet another hip replacement. After eons of being wheelchair bound, she was a pioneer in hip replacement techniques and materials. She endured 5 and for many of her waning years “Walked like a duck” in our opinion.

Grandma living with us was an inconvenience I thought, we had to buddy up to get her a room of her own and then there were the bathroom wars and meal time was weird too. She ate strange things, the most weird of all was calf brains. Then there were the amazing recipes for frittata and albondigas.

Grandma was Greek and she made Greek food, she was a health food nut. She made and ate granola before granola was cool. She knitted and sewed, she was from the old country.

In retrospect her living with us for that brief time was a real blessing, I got to know and respect her tremendously. More valuable than a visit or a stay with her could have ever been, I connected with a previous generation and established a deeper understanding of my roots and where I came from. She got to know me too.

What is the point

My point is that these people are pioneer stock, they understand that they are a nuisance, they want nothing in return and do not want anyone to make a fuss over them. It is often a struggle to incorporate them into your daily life and home. I’m here to tell you that it can work in a big way.

As a Baby Boomer, we feel like we will live forever. If anything goes wrong we just call in for a pill. The reality is that blending generations is a healthy alternative when a pill, regular phone calls, and an occasional holiday visit is not enough.

How can we incorporate our seniors into our homes?

mom

Mom

Assuming that you are at the point of consideration, we are here to discuss the possibility. As a certified Universal Design professional I have had training in making the home adapt to the new reality without making it look like an institution. Multigenerational living is a tough one. Boundaries need to be made. Rules and responsibilities need to be shared. Mutual respect is essential. “Space for living interdependently together” is what I call it.

Strategies

  • Partitioning the existing home
  • Creating a separate structure on the property. An ADU is an example (Accessory Dwelling Unit)
  • Doing an addition or a wing
  • Creating an en-suite (A second master bathroom off of a bedroom)
  • Tune up the home in a transparent way to make it usable by everyone

What do they deserve

Many things have changed in our lives and lifestyles in the last century. We are living longer and better lives. This situation would have been unheard of 50 years ago.  Solutions exist for independent living, some quite extravagant. The old folks homes of a lost era, with the stench of urine and screaming out for help are slowly being taken over by high end conglomerates that look and feel more like a Swiss Chalet.rp_Universal-Design7-300x155.jpg

This model is not for everyone, few can or want to afford it. Not every situation is the same. All I want my clients to know is that I get it, and am a huge supporter of multigenerational living. Most of all, finding clever ways of incorporating our parents and grandparents into the home is both doable, practical and can be a life changing event in a good way.


Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.

5 Comments
  • Ann H

    So glad you wrote about this, Joe. Many people only think of the difficulties they will face when moving an elder into their home, or moving into someone else’s home. But, as you point out, there are great benefits to be reaped by all parties.

    • Joe Levitch

      Thanks Ann, I believe folks are afraid of multigenerational living in general. I believe that the opportunity to share our homes with elders is a retro movement. The “It takes a village concept” really works.

  • Gary Hanes

    Joe,

    Great sentiment and defense of Universal Design! We’re living longer and this should be a standard design consideration in all new homes.

    Thanks!

    Gary

    • Joe Levitch

      I am starting to see traces of the concept in new houses with Ensuites as an example on the first floor. I believe it is a very responsible way to have our seniors live out their lives. Thanks for commenting

  • Joe Levitch

    Bernie, thanks for your note! I got to experience how cool it can be as a child. I see the multigenerational living situation as catching up with us quickly. I see it blindsiding many boomers and believe that there is a niche that remodelers need to fill.

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