As the cost of living rises across Canada, and in particular here in the Lonsdale Avenue corridor of North Vancouver, many people are considering ways to reduce their cost of living while improving quality of life and happiness.
In this interview article we sat down with Analise Ipatowicz of One Stone Living to learn what it means to live in an intergenerational capacity with a variety of different people, age groups and lifestyle types.
How did you get passionate about intergenerational living?
I was first introduced to the concept of intergenerational living when I lived in Japan with a host family in the 90’s. Four generations lived together including the great grandmother, who was taken care of by the grandmother and grandfather, who in turn were cared for by the mother and father. Everyone took care of the young boys, and nobody was lonely. This traditional living arrangement would need to be tweaked to work for me, but I knew this is how I wanted to live. It was an idea my husband and I hashed out even before we were married. After 16 years of three-generation living, we feel like we have perfected the arrangement.
What do you think are the main benefits for people who live in this capacity?
It is an amazing and mutually gratifying way to live – supporting your parents as they age, and being supported in so many ways while they are still young. Modern intergenerational living is a solution to a multitude of today’s issues including managing the dramatic increase in life expectancy and the cost of elder care, the need and cost for childcare, the lack of affordable housing, and the disconnectedness of our youth.
And there are so many unexpected benefits: I do not like gardening but I must admit I have the most beautiful garden on the block thanks to Grandma! Sharing home maintenance tasks, pet care, chores and errands makes life for everyone so much more manageable. The biggest benefit for my mom might be that she doesn’t need to worry about what her future might look like. Her wishes are known and it is part of our three-generation living plan. For me it is knowing that my mom is not lonely as she ages, which takes a lot of stress off of me.
– Raising children who are surrounded by the love, security and support of a grandparent
– Enjoying the benefits of a grandparent who serve as an active role model
– Raising children who learn to care for and connect with older adults
– Offering companionship to an (aging) mother who may otherwise be on her own
– Sharing household expenses (property tax, home repairs and maintenance)
– Sharing household chores (shopping, cooking, childcare, laundry)
– Sharing babysitting and the care of household pets when we are away or working
– Confidence that our home design is flexible and can evolve as our family evolves
– Peace of mind knowing that no one in the family is living alone or lonely
– Having the most beautiful garden on the street without having to do all the work
– Sharing clothes… you can buy more expensive clothes if you will both be wearing them
– Having someone to rock your crying baby when you really need a nap (back when they were babies)
– Coming home to a lovely prepared dinner or lunch
– Having a fashion consultant on hand to approve my outfit before I go out (only when I ask, of course)
– Having someone, who I strive to be as fit as, pressuring me to come hiking with her
– A second fridge at my mom’s that has eggs or milk when I’m all out
– On hand pet care by someone who really loves my furry babies
– A coordinator of home maintenance tasks so carpets and couches get cleaned, bush gets trimmed, high windows get washed, etc.
– And of course the most beautiful garden without all the hard work
– The endless, unselfish, enduring love of a mother surrounding us everyday
What are some of the main questions people ask you who might be considering this type of living?
Families considering whether intergenerational living might be an option for their family are often curious about when and how to open the conversation.
I encourage families to have an informal gathering of parents and siblings to discuss the basics: hear their parents wishes, discuss aging in place, home care and care homes. But also open the conversation to more unique living arrangements, like intergenerational living.
Who might have the right space, or the bandwidth to provide support and care, or benefit from the grandparents’ support and care while they are still young and active? Is downsizing and purchasing a multi-generational home together an option?
Put it all out there. All you really want from the first family meeting is an understanding of the older generation’s wishes and a list of options, both those around their wishes and other new ideas that might be worth exploring. Maybe your family has never thought about intergenerational living!
Where in North Vancouver are there places to come and check out intergenerational living?
With the idea of bringing extended families together in a mutually beneficial way, we are so excited to be building an intergenerational home and sharing “how-to’s” on making intergenerational living work! This new style of living is about comfortable homes with modern coach houses that offer older parents a good reason to downsize to be near their adult children, who may be ready to start a family, or are already well on their way. Modern intergenerational living does not require any family member to give up privacy or independence.
In the private, quiet area east of Grand Blvd we have built a 2000 sqft. main house, a 2 bedroom 800 sqft beautiful coach house and 2 bedroom 900 sqft garden suite. Intergenerational living doesn’t have to mean everyone under one roof. Our design incorporates privacy, accessibility, independence, equality, and flexibility for the future growth of a family.
People lead very different lifestyles and schedules, how does this factor into this type of living?
One of the key determinants of successful intergenerational living is having the setup in place while everyone can still contribute to the household. Everyone needs to feel needed, and wanted, and the care and support grandparents may be able to offer early on might be considered an investment in their future.
Parents working full-time or shift work, single parents, parents who travel or just busy parents can all benefit from the loving support of grandparents nearby. I am fortunate that my mother is in excellent health. She is certainly more support to us than we are to her, but I believe that having the children around, and being able to help when she wants, keeps her young and active.
Take a moment to think about how your morning might have been different with some support. Intergenerational living is how we all once lived, and I think it is the future of living in our busy world.
In your spare time outside of promoting intergenerational living what do you do for activities?
Writing and sharing ideas and stories on intergenerational living is my passion project. I do move consulting for a living, that is, working with companies that are moving to prepare them for the big day. My projects last from 3 months to 2 years depending on the size and my involvement. Over the last 20 years I have worked with both the public and private sector including with the Vancouver Police Department, Teck, Surrey City Hall, Simon Fraser University, Anthem Properties, Avison Young and Translink, to name a few.
I was born and raised in North Vancouver and I live in the Upper Lonsale area with my husband, my mother and our two children. We love the life we have here and enjoy skiing, mountain biking, hiking and being with friends.
Is there anything else you might want the community of Lonsdale to know about you?
This is my passion project and something I share because I think many people are caught up in the idea that intergenerational living is a bad thing, something our culture has not yet accepted. But things are changing. Modern day intergenerational living is an amazing way to live and I believe it is the future of living. And the gift to my children of being surrounded by the love of an entire family is priceless.