I’VE LONG STRUGGLED with the fact that, despite living in one of the world’s richest nations and having the best medical care in the world, Americans have a shorter average life expectancy than the citizens of 30 other developed nations.
I believe it all comes down to the high level of stress that Americans carry, much of it caused by economic hardship. Far too many Americans, both young and old, live paycheck to paycheck. That can feel helpless and uncertain. It’s stressful to have too much debt or to lack the savings needed to meet everyday needs.
Out of necessity, Americans are returning to intergenerational living. According to Pew Reseach Center, 16.1% of Americans lived in multigenerational households as of 2008—and the long-term trend has been up. That’s one in six American households where there are adults from at least two generations or where there’s a grandparent living with a grandchild.
Living together and supporting each other makes good economic sense. It’s cheaper to run one household than two.
There are also emotional benefits, especially for working parents. Stress levels can be greatly reduced if you no longer have to pay for daycare, find babysitters or arrange for summer camps. On top of that, it’s comforting to know there will always be someone to meet the kids at the school-bus stop, and maybe also a hot meal waiting on the table after a long day at work.
You can see that I’m a big fan of multigenerational living. And it comes with the added benefit of bringing families closer together.