The decline of rural life in this country has created a shift in the ability of families to care for each other. Families with young children have had to move to larger urban areas in pursuit of work, and elder family members have been left in rural areas or small towns. Both groups have been growing up or growing older in a place that no longer allowed for the free and mutual exchange of knowledge, physical support and community. Young families that have moved for work have often found themselves in unfriendly cities in which they were economically and physically challenged by the environment and lack of kin.
Mary Pipher’s book The Shelter of Each Other tells the story of the decline of the family in contemporary society. This book was published in 1996, and family life in the last two decades shows an increase in the isolation of young families and elders. Young families that do not have extended family nearby struggle due to lack of emotional and economic support for themselves and their growing children. Both groups are subject to the rollercoaster of the economy and healthcare concerns. Intergenerational living addresses these family issues by recreating an environment where something approaching kinship becomes the central principle for the preservation of family.
For many older people in the United States today, the fear of being dependent on others and being forced into a nursing home is greater than their fear of dying. In order to age in place, an elder requires a network of health care professionals, family, friends, community or a combination of those resources. One answer to this complex set of logistical problems can be found through intergenerational living environments.
Options for Intergenerational Living
Get new blog posts, events, and updates from Hope & A Future each month!
Written by members of the Hope & a Future community including residents, volunteers, and staff.