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Economy unites generations

By Leslie Brody


These new housemates report sweet gratitude for family bonding as well as squabbles over toothpaste spit in the bathroom sink.

"People used their house as an ATM and maxed out on credit and have no savings to fall back on," Hughes said. "Now that we're in a recession they're in deep trouble."


"When I live with younger people, I'm going to feel like a burden," she said. "I'll have to think about how not to take over the newspaper, TV, conversation and the bathroom."

He'll have to make safety improvements, such as putting a grab bar by the tub. Lebowitz is physically healthy but has short-term memory lapses. The Schwartzes hope her condition won't slip further and want to take care of her as long as possible.

Living with relatives is a tradition among many immigrants and poor families, but it's an unexpected twist for strivers who had established independence and were forced to give it up.


"Being 42 and living with your mom and dad isn't easy," she said. She's grateful her mother cooks dinner, but sometimes they clash on discipline. "My mom gets very mad that I let my kids sleep in bed with me," she said. "She yells at me they should be in their own rooms, but I miss them so much I want to cuddle."

There's one pure upside: Paldiel adores living with his grandchildren. "It's worth millions," he said.

Early in the 20th century, marriage was romanticized and many people believed a healthy marriage was based on nuclear families. In the past 20 years, those views have softened.

"You had more working moms and retired parents who had the health and desire to help with the kids," she said. "All these things have come together to rebuild generational ties on a much more democratic basis, out of real friendship rather than loyalty."


Her son pays "rent" by helping her market her new e-book for the "Silver Cloud Diet." She has been proud to get a firsthand glimpse at his business savvy but they both had adjusting to do.

"My house is not very big," she said. "We have periodic dust-ups — like about spitting toothpaste in the sink and not washing it up. It's the little stuff that drives you wild."

What about dating?

"Neither one of us has a sex life," his mother declared. "It's so annoying."