Successful multigenerational family
By Lori Bitter
Most of have heard our parents talk about the days when Grandma and Grandpa lived upstairs and young adults didn’t leave home until they married – some bringing their spouse back home again. In the post-war baby boom, it became fashionable to move away from the “old neighborhood” into the new houses being built in the suburbs. This left older people aging alone in cities while young people built their families in pretty neighborhoods with big yards and brand new schools.
Culturally, not a lot had changed since then – young people left home earlier, older people were aging in their own homes – until the financial crisis and recession of 2008. Then, for the first time in decades, the numbers of families living multi-generationally began to rise. And that continues. Each generation is adapting to life stage changes, like launching careers later for young people, taking care of older family members for people at middle age, and the desire to age in one’s own home for elders.
Lisa M. Cini wrote the book Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living – How Our Family Makes It Work, in 2017, to describe her family’s journey to creating their own “hive.” So much more than a how-to, Cini takes us on the journey of conceiving, planning, building, and “doing life” as a four-generation family. She is an award-winning designer, with more than 25 years of experience designing for senior living. Still, she honestly admits she had much to learn in this process of designing their home, especially as her grandmother developed dementia early in the process.
“I remember with absolute clarity (and delight) the first time my father, a combination of Robert De Niro and Archie Bunker, used his bidet seat.
The Simple Guide is full of practical tips for making this lifestyle work – from designing spaces to figuring out how to control the home’s thermostat to keep everyone happy. It is also filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, like her city-bred husband’s decision to become a bee-keeper (a successful experiment) and then bringing home baby chicks to live in the guest suite.
Even vacations are family affairs, as the Cini’s traveled to Japan together when grandmother was 86. One of the trip highlights – the bidet seats on all of the toilets! When the multigenerational experiment was designed, Cini decided to put these toilet seats in all of the bathrooms. While the reasons were practical – allowing her grandmother older the dignity of taking care of her toileting and relieving her mom of that responsibility – the chapter is filled with anecdotes.
“I remember with absolute clarity (and delight) the first time my father, a combination of Robert De Niro and Archie Bunker, used his bidet seat. Since he did not exactly read the manual from cover to cover, he went in and a moment later came out screaming he had a ‘G.D. tornado up his A.’. . .I can honestly say, I am not sure why the setting ‘Vortex’ should ever be on one of these bidet toilet seats, but my father was the lucky one to try it out.”
Even if this lifestyle isn’t for your family, it is a glimpse into the future for many of us.
The humanity and intelligence in the pages of this guide provide beautiful, profound lessons of how to live fully at every age. My favorite – “Overuse I love you.”
About Lisa M. Cini – Lisa is an award-winning, an internationally recognized designer with twenty-five years of experience developing interiors for senior living communities. Her previous work, The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined is about technology that will change senior living. Her firm, Mosaic Design Studio, is the leading provider of design services for senior living and healthcare.
Read more from Lori here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LORI BITTER
Lori Bitter serves as publisher of GRAND. Her book, “The Grandparent Economy” was published in 2015. Her consulting company, The Business of Aging provides strategic consulting, research and product development for companies seeking to engage with mature consumers. Her favorite title is “Gigi” for grandsons Gabriel (on right) and Henry (on left).