4 Types of Multigenerational Living Arrangements

Are you soon-to-be living with an aging parent? Explore the options and decide which is best for your family.

By Leah Felderman  
Updated: 05/21/2018  
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Grandma, mom, and daughter. Photo by Pressmaster on Bigstock

Option 1: Move Mom into your family home.

The easiest option to test out a potential shift in family living is to move Mom right in!

A private room is a must and it is helpful if the oldest member of your household has their own bathroom. Although moving into an existing family home is the "easiest" option for most families while testing the waters of cohabitation, it still takes quite a bit of planning. Mom's mobility and safety concerns are two major points to consider. Stairs, bathroom accessibility, and over all safety of the home are but a few factors that need to be examined. Hiring an occupational therapist to assess Mom's new environment is a sound decision. The occupational therapist will be able to examine Mom's new surroundings and make suggestions (including the addition of home safety equipment and daily living aids) on how your elderly loved one can best, and safely accomplish their activities of daily living.


Option 2: Move Mom into an existing accessory dwelling unit (ADU)

Move Mom into your home with a private space just for her!

If you are fortunate to have a property with an existing ADU, you can move Mom right in to an ideal situation! Accessory dwelling units take many forms, the most popular type is an in-law apartment or suite. They can be in a separate wing of the house or its own separate building. Some ADUs are designed and built for their specific purpose such as an in-law suite, granny flat, or garage apartment; they already have the appropriate electric, water, and sewer needs incorporated and may need just minimal retrofitting for Mom. Other ADUs are conversions of basements, garages, carriage houses, or pool houses to accommodate a guest or permanent resident. If you have a converted accessory dwelling unit, it is recommended to have the space retrofitted and refurbished by a building professional specializing in aging in place clients.

Option 3: Create a new residence made just for Mom

Invest in a new space for Mom that is ready to accommodate her evolving needs for aging in place.

Whether adding onto your existing home or adding an entirely new residential building to your property make certain to hire professionals that understand, incorporate, and accommodate the needs of the residents that will be aging in place. Growing in popularity are "Granny Pods" that are prefabricated homes offering an array of aging in place features, from handicap accessibility to padded floors to remote monitoring (just to name a few). There are a variety of companies that offer "Granny Pods" but MedCottage is considered to be the original!

Option 4: Move Mom, and the rest of the family, to a new home!

Ready to make the commitment to multigenerational living? Make a move and find a new family home for everybody!

At first this may not seem like the most logical option, but it's not too far off base considering just how often Americans move. Census bureau statistics show that on average approximately 10-15% of the population moves annually. Perhaps there were already thoughts of relocation due to work or school, or perhaps moving would be solely to accommodate Mom. Regardless of the reason for relocation, keep in mind the many home options to choose from that can accommodate your new family dynamic. There are a growing number of builders and communities that specialize in multigenerational living arrangements. When starting your search for a new home include terms such as "multigenerational living" and "lifelong neighborhoods".


Leah Felderman BA MA

About the Author

Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.

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