Multi-Generational Family Households Are Back

By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

Denver, Colo. – Years ago, grandparents and single aunts and uncles lived with families.  As the Baby Boomers entered middle age, multi-generational family households were replaced with older adults living in nursing homes.  More recently, care now includes assisted living, memory care, adult day programs, and hospice programs.

Today, according to Generations United, 26% of families were living in multi-generational families.  In the past year, the Colorado Gerontological Society used a community-directed approach to learn more about these families, especially communities of color. 

Based on a community housing survey of households who receive services from The Society, 33% of the older adults who responded lived in households with adult children and grandchildren because of lack of a job or inability to afford housing. Of those living in multi-generational family households, 48% were families from communities of color and 64% had an income of less than $2265/month.

To get more in-depth information, individual interviews with older adults living in multi-generational family households showed mixed reactions to completing the SNAP/Medicaid application.  Some reported the application was simple; some reported confusion, especially what happens if “one makes a mistake”.  Most people wanted navigators to help complete forms. 

Community conversations supported the findings of the individual interviews regarding the difficulty and vagueness of the SNAP/Medicaid form and the lack of a clear path on how to file taxes in multi-generational family households.  These conversations confirmed the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing were the major reasons for families combining households.  Housing policy, especially senior housing, is not family friendly. The best part of living in a multi-generational family household was sharing expenses and child/elder care responsibilities. 

To learn more about multi-generational family households, visit If you have any questions, call 303-333-3482 or 1-855-293-6911 (toll free) or 1-866-880-4777 (Spanish).

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. 

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