Saturday, August 25, 2018

Intergenerational Living with the aging population

I condition this that I am not an expert on this subject, these are simply my thoughts after a stimulating conversation with other women witnessing similar situations.

I see it happening more and more. Aging parents are struggling to keep up with their once large homes for the children to have space to grow up on. Children most of the time are no longer living at home and parents are left with the properties that are 5 times the size of what they need. This is the home they know and have known for 30ish years and so its hard to leave to something else.  And its expensive and time consuming to move as well.

Adult children, I do think, feel a responsibility to their parents, but our culture has taught us that independence is everything.  If you are dependent on another or if you have to take on another, it is seen as a burdening thing. It takes away supposed freedom.  In a lot of ways we haven't been conditioned to take on all the baggage that comes with an aging parent in our current culture.  And for a lot of people, the best option becomes a retirement community or a nursing home.

But what if we were to reclaim intergenerational living?  What if we were to release the stigma of a parent living an adult child? What if we were to say this is a good thing to have grandma and grandpa around instead of a bad one?  What if we were able to see how there are so many positive aspects about an intergenerational home instead of seeing that it limits our freedom?

The 1950s came with a housing boom and everyone had their piece of land and we were all separated into our little bits of independence. A cultural sense of freedom.  Then came the transportation boom and everyone had a car and everyone could go everywhere on their own time. Another cultural sense of freedom.

I think now that for a lot of us we are feeling the effects of the distance and the supposed independence. We are isolated more and more and we miss the connections.  A lot of millennials are moving back into urban areas from suburbia. They are tired of driving, they are tired of being disconnected from others. And still there is this gap with generations, parents in suburbs and exurbs and children in different cities far away from family.

So what do we do with it?  How do we solve this?  I think somehow we need to interact more with the elderly and really engage everyday with them.  I have aging neighbors that could use more help. I need to at the very least go out of my way to ask them how I could help.  They may say no, but we need to help each other more.  We need to be dependent on each other.  We aren't meant to be isolated and we are meant to love.  So how are you going to step out and love?

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