Those of us who live in Hawaii have long valued multigenerational housing, because our culture respects and nurtures our elders. A recent AARP analysis of census data shows that Hawai'i had the highest share of multigenerational households, followed by California and Mississippi, due partly to a scarcity of affordable housing.
The trend is becoming nationwide, as job losses and the recession force or encourage the generations to rely more on sharing housing. Kids are returning home after college, and aging parents cannot afford to live alone. While these trends create financial pressures on the middle generation, many opportunities for sharing of expenses and of ideas are created.
About 6.6 million U.S. households in 2009 had at least three generations of family members, an increase of 30 percent since 2000, according to census figures. When "multigenerational" is more broadly defined to include at least two adult generations, a record 49 million, or one in six people, live in such households, according to a study being released today by the Pew Research Center. The share of older adults in multigenerational homes is increasing, and currently is about 20 percent.
According to the Honolulu Advertiser, "The rise in multigenerational households is heavily influenced by economics, with many young adults known as "boomerang kids" moving back home with mom and dad because of limited job prospects and a housing crunch.
But extended life spans and increased options in home health and outpatient care over nursing homes have also played a role. So, too, has a recent wave of immigration of Hispanics and Asians, who are more likely to live with extended family."
Other findings of the AARP study include:
*The most common multigenerational family is an older parent who owns the house, living with an adult child and grandchild.
*Older women are more likely than older men to live in a multigenerational household.
•*While multigenerational families are increasing, the number of adults 65 and older who live alone is edging lower, from a peak of 28.8 percent in 1990 to 27.4 percent in 2008.
"The government will continue to provide a social safety net for older adults, but given today's demographic and economic realities, it's not clear that this public safety net will be as robust in the future as it is now," said Paul Taylor, a co-author of the Pew report. "That could increase the trend toward family members providing care for elderly parents — a role that families have taken on throughout human history."
If you are interested in finding a home suitable for more than one generation, or more than one family group, you have many options in Hawaii Kai homes. Contact me for some ideas.
Barbara Abe, Realtor
(Read more at the Honolulu Advertiser.)