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Six Tips for Creating a Successful Intergenerational Home

Multigenerational homes were once a common fixture in Canada. It was only after the end of World War II that it became more common for separate generations to live in individual homes. However, recently there has been a revival of the intergenerational living trend, with more Canadian families choosing to cohabit with family members of other generations. In fact, the 2016 Canadian census showed 37.5 per cent growth in the number of multigenerational households since 2001.

A multigenerational home, with three or more generations under one roof, can provide mutual care and support for all family members. But despite family members’ best intentions, issues can crop up when transitioning to a communal living arrangement. Here are six tips for making intergenerational life as pleasant as possible:

  1. When it comes to living with others, communication is key. When you have multiple generations living under one roof, there will have to be some planning and arrangements made. Be sure everyone is talking and listening to one another’s concerns and needs to ensure the most comfortable living situation for everyone.
  2. During the early stages of planning and talking, it is important to look at the power structure of the home. There may be some kind of a power imbalance. For starters, whoever owns the home may feel like they have a greater say in what happens around the household or parents may feel like they have authority over their adult children. Keep in mind that everyone has to make adjustments and set clear boundaries.
  3. There may be specific needs that must be met by certain family members. This could be a grandparent requiring extra help due to a medical or health condition or a child requiring care or supervision, but it can be just about anything. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of whom and when. Writing down a schedule can be helpful in this situation.
  4. Cost-savings can be one of the main reasons families end up living together for extended periods. It can be very cost-effective for families to live together, but financial issues can also be a point of contention in any living situation. Be sure to iron out details about financial responsibilities early on in the planning process, but also be sure to discuss any issues that arise as they come up.
  5. People need a place to call their own. Find a spot in the home that members can get some privacy or feel ownership over so they can spend time alone doing something they enjoy. In some cases, there may not be a lot of space, but even a comfy chair or other piece of furniture can provide that sense of ownership and space. At OPAL by element, it is possible for different generations to reside in separate homes within the same community so that it is much easier to maintain a sense of personal space, privacy and independence while being an integral supportive part of each other’s lives.
  6. Consider engaging a family counsellor to facilitate open and honest discussions about the above. Sometimes with entrenched dynamics, boundaries and power structures are difficult to overcome without professional objective guidance and counselling.

Although moving to an intergenerational home may require some large adjustments, the rewards are great. You can help create a loving, supportive home for all your family members by keeping lines of communication open, being patient, and remembering the important reasons why you’ve made the switch.

To learn about the intergenerational living options available at Opal by Element Lifestyle Retirement Communities, contact us here.