Multi- Generational Living

Posted by Lauren Johnson on Jun 19, 2019

At some point over the last half century or so, North America has created a culture of separation between families. It is common for children in Canada and the United States to grow up, leave home, and from that point on only see their parents and grandparents and other extended family on special occasions or vacations. This is so normal that entire retirement communities exist dotted all over any town or city, geared towards people in their “old age.”

Since we in North America grew up this way, we don’t have perspective on other ways to incorporate older generations into our lives. Many cultures around the world consider it part of their family duty to care for their elders as long as they possibly can. Indeed, those who grew up with friends whose families recently immigrated may recall a household where a grandparent lived full time, but such situations would have been considered unusual.

Yet there are other ways to tackle aging and family dynamics, and as usual, Westman Village is a pioneer in doing things differently. Part of the Westman Village mandate is to create a true village, where connections among residents flourish due to consistent, positive interactions and gathering. One of the best ways to ensure a community’s health and vibrancy is to connect different generations together to share wisdom, vitality, excitement and knowledge in all directions. To that end, a wing of Westman Village dedicated to seniors’ living is only natural.

A great number of studies confirm benefits to multi-generational living in the context of a single home, so it’s not a stretch to say that those benefits would apply on a larger scale in a multi-family community. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, “multi-generational living arrangements can, in theory, increase psychological, social, and financial capital -- factors associated with improvements in health and longevity.”

It’s not hard to imagine why. Younger people can glean knowledge, wisdom and perspective from their elders, meanwhile kids, teens and young adults have all the enthusiasm, excitement and potential any grandparent, aunt or uncle could ever ask for. When different ages and perspectives move freely around a community, that community can only become more vibrant and sustainable.

At Westman Village, the combination of multi-generational living space with a wide variety of common and activity spaces means a massive number of possible spontaneous interactions between different generations. In some heart warming cases, two or three generations of a single family live in Westman Village, which means those direct relatives will have access in frequent and varied ways to interact with their loved ones. Beyond direct family, a child may come across a senior reading a particular book, playing a certain game, or making a certain piece of art or craft, which can lead organically to questions, learning, and new ideas or passions.

Humans are social animals, so we thrive when we live in environments with social variety and connection. From the beginning, Westman Village was intended as an exercise in doing things in the most connective, holistic, and full spectrum fashion possible. Generations coming together isn’t some strange exception to the rule, for Westman Village it is the only natural way to do things.