Nightly News   |  December 13, 2012

Managing multiple generations under one roof

Whether for health or financial reasons, an estimated 51.5 million people are finding the need to share living space in multi-generational households – and now homebuilders are starting to take notice. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> american households are getting more crowded thanks to a steep increase in the number of families that have several generations living under one roof. sometimes it's financial reasons. sometimes baby boomer ls need to take care of both their parents and their own kids. while it is the way american families used to live in prior generations, these days it can be a challenge, given life in america. tonight in partnership with the aarp, our chief medical correspondent dr. nancy snyderman reports on some ways people are making it work.

>> curtis and christy owen are making ends meet thanks to an increasingly popular living arrangement.

>> we are able to balance our budget and stuff and make this manageable because we have three incomes.

>> they're part of the 51.5 million people in the country living in multi-generational households and billers are taking notice. the couple lives with christy 's parents in a nex/gen home. a concept that has quickly become one of the company's top sellers . with prices ranging from $200,000 to $600,000. next gens are houses with complete smaller homes attached, designed for privacy and built to evolve with a family.

>> you can use it as an office when the kids are first young. you can use it as a teen room when they get older. when your parents are older they can live with you.

>> christy 's parents live in the attached unit, helping care for granddaughter ava. experts say living together is about more than just making memories . gl the socialization that occurs when you live a multigenerational household can be a very positive thing for the health of every generation in the household.

>> so how long have you been here?

>> eva is the director of phoenix revitalization corporation. her mission is renewing neighborhoods and connecting generations. she says mixing generations is common for many cultures and preserves family traditions .

>> the only way we can save the things important to our heart and to our soul are being close enough to touch someone.

>> but too much togetherness can be tricky. clearly defined roles and rules keep her busy household running smoothly. especially with children and grand kids moving in and out on a rotating basis.

>> i put my foot down. i say, you have to help me because you live here, too. i'm not going it on my own.

>> whether you decide to live with family members or not, the important thing is to have the conversations when everyone is healthy and younger so there's no confusion as the family ages and the inevitable crises come. the conversations aren't always easy, but boy does it make your family stronger.

>> nice to know others are out there with the same thing. nancy, thanks for your reporting. you can find much more on this topic, including the resources of the aarp. it's on our website tonight,