|More Families Bringing the Generations under One Roof|
|By Tim Grant|
|RISMEDIA, Tuesday, February 24, 2015— (TNS)—At 80 years old, Jack Beiber loves having his family back under one roof.
His two grown daughters help buy groceries and cook meals. His two granddaughters—ages 15 and 13—and a 27-year-old grandson are responsible for household chores such as dishes and taking out the trash. With all those relatives around, their mom has never had to worry about babysitters or someone to drive them to school or skating practice.
Three generations, plus a Husky-Lab mix named Stitch, live together in Beiber’s home. That means there is hardly a dull moment, something that helps fend off loneliness and much of the depression Beiber has felt since his wife, Ruth, passed away eight years ago.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without them if they weren’t here,” Beiber says.
Multigenerational living has become the new normal for many families.
According to the Pew Research Center, about 51 million Americans, or 16.7 percent of the population, live in a house with at least two adult generations—or a grandparent and at least one other generation—under one roof. Pew researchers also reported a 10.5 percent increase in multigenerational households from 2007 to 2009, which would have been the height of the Great Recession.
In such situations, family members are able to share living expenses.
It can be a tradeoff, according to a new study by Minneapolis-based Allianz Life Insurance Co. The families may end up living together because of lost jobs or divorces. Some who arrive are struggling with debt and can’t contribute a lot toward the household’s food or utility bills.
But it can also bring families closer.
More than a third of multigenerational and boomerang family types—41 percent and 34 percent respectively—says they often felt financially-burdened by the number of family members living in their households. Boomerang families are defined as those whose children leave the house, but come back between ages 21 to 35 to live in their old room as adults, often with children of their own. Multigenerational families have three or more generations living in the same household.
While both types of families acknowledge the potential financial issues created by their living arrangements—most notably having less money available for retirement savings—they still felt having an extra adult family member at home was a positive aspect of their day-to-day life.
“Boomerang families and multigenerational families may not have a lot of options but to invite that family member back into the home,” says Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer insights at Allianz Life. “A lot of times that extra adult will help grandparents with chores or watch the kids, but they may bring expenses that are pretty costly. They may bring some debt and may have medical expenses.
“In boomerang families, a lot of them already had one or two people retired,” Libbe says. “And when an adult kid comes back to the house, they might bring with them debt from college, or maybe they have been through a divorce and have other issues.”
Multigenerational families were a common way of life during the Great Depression. The lifestyle was a key feature in a 1970s television series following the lives of the Walton family, which had three generations living together in the Virginia mountains during the Depression.
After World War II—once people began to rebound economically with the help of Social Security and Medicare—older adults were in a better position to live on their own. But following the Great Recession of 2008, the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction.
“It just really underscores the fact that families are closer than ever,” Libbe says. “Boomer parents want to help their kids and multigenerational families want to help their parents. But both groups need to not lose sight of a plan (to secure their financial futures).”
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