Kindred Celebrates Intergeneration Month

By Maggie Cunningham

ig 1September is Intergeneration Month, a month dedicated to connecting people across generations. For people living in multigenerational households-a home that includes two or more adult generations, or both grandparents and grandchildren-this is not a new concept.

However, multiple generations living together doesn't necessarily mean that they are thriving together. A pain point for many of these families is medical care. Thankfully, this is an area where nurses and other clinicians can help by providing a safe and nurturing environment for patients living in these circumstances.

Much of nursing education offers a holistic approach. But often the resources available to help coordinate care for patients are geared strictly toward a traditional, nuclear family. Patients who live alone, patients whose family is coordinating their care from a distance, and multigenerational households are commonly not addressed even though they present unique challenges and opportunities. 

Some challenges may include:

1. Households where multiple stages of life are occurring at the same time (e.g., raising children, caring for elderly parents)
2. Obstacles in obtaining affordable and accessible housing for all generations, adequate insurance coverage, etc.
3. Guardianship boundaries in authority or consent of the grandchildren's public benefits and legal assistance

So how do we, as nurses, approach these challenges? By also addressing the unique opportunities! These families are often overwhelmed and experiencing increased levels of stress. Their responsibilities are numerous and their resources are scarce. It is important that we as holistic caregivers help by not making assumptions about their family group.

ig 3For instance, when discharging a patient, we can't necessarily assume that because there are more people than average in their household that they also have more people to take care of them. Some of these families are only living together out of necessity, so it is important to ask questions and thoroughly explore who will be providing care and comfort at home.

It also is important to connect the developmental and social needs of each generation, especially as they relate to supporting the patient.  As you continue your nursing education, make it a point to add different family unit types into your case studies or learning objectives to better understand their limits and opportunities. By getting yourself involved in understanding these unique families, you will become an asset to those who often feel lost or misunderstood.

Take September, Intergeneration Month, as an opportunity for you to expand yourself as a medical professional. You can learn more by visiting these resources:

Generations United:  www.gu.org .

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/12/your-money/multigenerational-households-financial-advice.html?_r=0

http://www.healio.com/nursing/journals/jne/2009-11-48-11/%7Bc93492fb-d54b-44b7-9a49-7355177566f0%7D/the-multigenerational-household-implications-for-nursing-education