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A Family Affair: The Rebirth of Intergenerational Living

Intergenerational Living

: Intergenerational living, where grandparents, parents and their grandkids live under the same roof, has been a common practice in many cultures for centuries. But in today’s North American society, where independence is celebrated and living miles away from family is often the norm, the tradition, and its many benefits, has gone by the wayside.

But a new array of housing developments that have young and old living alongside one another in Vancouver, as well as cities in Europe and the U.S., is changing that, and tapping into the social, emotional and physical benefits of living as “one big happy family.”

At Humanitas retirement home in Deventer, eastern Netherlands, for instance, university students live rent-free amongst pensioners in exchange for 30 hours a work per month. Here, they carry out tasks outside the bandwidth of full-time employees: spending quality time with elderly residents, whether it’s playing games, going to the mall or assisting with shopping.

The philosophy is also being embraced in other parts of Europe and the U.S., where intergenerational developments are popping up, and the trend of retirees renting out rooms to students in their homes is taking hold.

The situation has benefits for all involved. Young people are rewarded with meaningful interactions with elders and the satisfaction of knowing they are helping others, while senior residents, who can tend to become cut off from the rest of society in retirement homes (sometimes referred to as “care ghettos”,) have reported feeling less lonely, less depressed and more engaged and connected to their communities.

Now, in the first condo development of its kind, Opal by Element is offering opportunities for families to live in an intergenerational complex in the heart of Vancouver’s West Side. With a delivery date of 2018, our 130-unit building is set to be a peaceful-yet-stimulating hub of activity, where families whose members could span from childhood to retirement age, and couples who may require different levels of care—from Independent Living to Assisted Living—can thrive.

We are unique in that residents are encouraged to take proactive action towards securing a safe, healthy and fulfilling future, allowing them to move in before they need care. While similar developments have age restrictions of 55 years and up, we require only one family member to be over that age (meaning a couple in their 40s with two children could live in a condo unit alongside their parents in their 70s.)

Make the most of your retirement years in an environment that provides a continuum of support, should you need it. And with 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities, from including a music, art and workshop studio, wellness spa, theatre, fireside library lounge, rooftop patio and programmed intergenerational activities, we are turning aging into something not to be dreaded—but to be celebrated.