​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

​There are many forms of intergenerational living styles, and two specific concepts include cohousing and intentional communities. Cohousing is usually a cluster of homes/condos that includes common areas in a neighborhood-style configuration where front porches border common walkways. Residents of these communities own the properties, maintain them and make decisions as a group for development, improvements, repairs and community programming. AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) has information on these communities.
An intentional community is another form of intergenerational living. These communities share a common philosophical thread, such as an alternative lifestyle or religious belief. Specific examples include ecovillages, ashrams and housing cooperatives. Membership and decisions within these communities are generally made through group consensus.

Towns and communities also embrace the importance of intergenerational living by transforming areas into “senior friendly zones” or “intergenerational contact zones”. Generally, the focus is to foster community interaction among the generations and provide opportunities for social programs and safe zones for families—including those with children and both active and frail elders. Another example is a “dementia-friendly zone”, such as a neighborhood of elders and college students providing mutual support or specific businesses that choose to provide a certain kind of safe space.

International Examples

Due to the smaller geographic area of many European countries, decline of the family has happened at a slower pace. Recognizing the need for family and elder support systems, European governments have begun to develop programming that encourages interaction between the generations (see link below).
In the Netherlands, there is a program that brings together young mothers, their children and seniors to provide mutual support and reduce social isolation. As seniors provide mentoring for young mothers to build a better life for themselves and their children, their common efforts support the feeling of community and the satisfaction of fulfilling a meaningful service to others. 


Living the Ideal

​The sharing of wisdom, work experience, life-skills (traditional and technological), values, moral codes, healthy lifestyles, community meals, affordable housing, and community gardens—these are all pieces of the whole intergenerational living ideal. At Hope & A Future, we know that mental and physical health, emotional well-being and dignity are enhanced by the living out of this ideal. As we strive to help others, we help ourselves and the generations to come.
  1. essay service cheap 6 years ago

    Thank God for people like you! I can see how big and pure your heart is. Thank you for helping out all these people. It really means a lot to me because I know that they do not have families anymore and I have also been in their position before. I know how lonely it is when your family is not with you anymore. Thank you for showing them kindness, love, and treating them like they are part of your family.

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    We should always remember that other people will always have something to say no matter what we do with our lives, so better for you to follow the desire of your heart. But of course you should look after your actions and make sure that everything that you do are always according to your principles. Life gave you freedom, but that doesn’t mean you need not to follow God’s desire for you! By the way, thank you for all the tips you had written above.

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    Family has always been important to me. Living in one household with parents, brothers and sisters, and my grandparents, our home is a full house. While I do have plans of moving out, I still doubt that I will because I value family life more than an independent life. In our society, people are losing the sense of family kinship. We all want to move away and leave them behind. If there is one thing that you should not forget, it is family.

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    There are lots of intentional committee here in my area. Most of them are from religious groups. They are really helpful to the society because they enlighten those who are down and those who are in shadow of being down and lonely. According to studies, suicidal cases can be decreased by implementing this kind of programs. Making someone into some peer who can he or she relate will be helpful for him to gain and grow. I consider this one as a good example of discipleship.

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