WASHINGTON – You can go home again.
Baby Boomers are turning away from nursing homes as an option for their aging parents, as a financial crunch and a flashback to their 60s style has them moving their parents back home to live with them.
"I do think boomers have this sense of, 'I'm going to do this better, I'm going to do this different, and even more importantly, I'm going to do this on my own terms,'" said Eleanor Ginzler of the AARP.
"[A] nursing home, which is essentially a medical institution, is the least favorable setting for them. They liked living in communes, for goodness sake, so a multi-generational household is a little bit related to a commune in some respects," she said. "They like the social aspect of it."
Kathy and Mike Patterson of Ft. Washington, Md., say there was a never a question when it came to taking in her parents. In recent years, Patterson's father had a number of health problems but didn't want full-time medical help.
"They're not ready for that. They don't need assisted living. They need family," she said of her parents. Since moving in under one roof, the four have grown closer. Kathy's father, Tim Planz, says it saved his life.
"I need help. If it wasn't for the move, when I had the third stroke I think I would have been gone. I honestly do," he said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of households with three or more generations under one roof increased by 38 percent between 1990 and 2000. Grandparents often come to help raise their young grandchildren, but as the household ages, the younger generations begin caring for the oldest members of the family.
Experts say those years together help build a bond that's much tougher to forge when family members live thousands of miles apart.
"There's also that desire, that understanding that families are stronger, generations are stronger if they are closer together, and the benefits, the mutual interdependence and benefits that they all receive when they come under one roof," said Donna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United.
Butts says many seniors are also motivated by the current economic climate, as retirement plans become less stable and advances in health care mean they're living longer. "You have an older population that is starting to outlive some of their savings, some of their retirement, some of their really excellent planning," Butts told FOX News.
Builders and developers are also tapping into the trend by catering to families that may not necessarily want to live in the same house, but like the concept of sharing a community.
In Arizona, the Verrado community was built with this plan in mind. A number of different housing options are available and a common community center anchors different generations together by providing activities for young and old alike.
Jackie and Jerry Van Dyke's daughter and son-in-law moved into the enclave, bringing the Van Dykes' two young grandsons. "We're there for one another, and we know we're close. It's really cool to watch them grow up and be a part of their lives like that," said Jackie Van Dyke.
She and her husband sometimes pick the children up from school, and the three generations often eat together. That simple contact was rare when grandson Anthony Totri lived hours away. "Now I get to see them a billion times a month," said Van Dyke.