Rohr lives with her husband and twin teenage sons in a
well-tended three-bedroom home in Salinas, Calif.
ranch-style house has a spacious kitchen that looks out
on a yard filled with rosebushes. Itís a modest but
comfortable house, the type that Rohr, 52, pictured for
herself at this stage of life.
just never imagined that it would be her childhood home,
a return to a bedroom where she once hung posters of
Olivia Newton-John and curled up with her beloved Mrs.
by economic necessity ó Rohr has been chronically
unemployed and her husband lost his job last year ó
she moved her family back home with her 77-year-old
a time when the still-sluggish economy has sent a flood
of jobless young adults back home, older people are
quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate
of their younger counterparts.
seven years through 2012, the number of Californians
aged 50 to 64 who live in their parentsí homes swelled
67.6 percent to about 194,000, according to the UCLA
Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center
for Community Economic Development.
jump is almost exclusively the result of financial
hardship caused by the recession rather than for other
reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents,
said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public
health who crunched the data.
numbers are pretty amazing," Wallace said. "Itís
an age group that you normally think of as pretty
financially stable. Theyíre mid-career. They may be
thinking ahead toward retirement. Theyíve got a nest
egg going. And then all of a sudden you see this huge
push back into their parentsí homes."
more young adults live with their parents than those in
their 50s and early 60s live with theirs. Among 18- to
29-year-olds, 1.6 million Californians have taken up
residence in their childhood bedrooms, according to the
thatís a 33 percent jump from 2006, the pace is half
that of the 50 to 64 age group.
surge in middle-aged people moving in with parents
reflects the grim economic reality that has taken hold
in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
unemployment is especially acute for older people. The
number of Americans 55 and older who have been out of
work for a year or more was 617,000 at the end of
December, a fivefold jump from the end of 2007 when the
recession hit, according to the Bureau of Labor
with Rohr, those in their 50s move in only as a last
resort. Many have exhausted savings. Some have jobs but
canít shoulder soaring rents in areas such as Los
Angeles or San Francisco.
the cause, moving in with Mom and Dad exacts a bruising
emotional toll. Even asking to move the family in was
difficult for Rohr.
said, ĎMom, Iím so sorry, but I donít know what to
do,í " she said. "I dreaded it. If it wasnít
for my boys, I wouldnít have done it. I would have
lived in my car."
Chung Mejia knows how tough it can be. As a public
policy consultant at the Insight Center for Community
Economic Development in Los Angeles, she helps people
and communities regain their economic health.
unexpected vulnerability at this point in your
life," she said. "When youíre supposed to be
the provider, sort of the rock for yourself and your
family and maybe your parents, the table just gets
turned on you and the rug gets pulled out from under
what happened to Janine Rosales, who moved into her
motherís San Francisco home two years ago after a
career of mostly low-paying jobs left her unable to
afford the cityís towering rents.
Rosales, 53, it represented a personal defeat, an
unofficial marker of unmet goals in life.
sit here sometimes and I see baby pictures of myself and
my teenage years and remember all the dreams I
had," Rosales said. "I never thought Iíd end
up where I am."
also brings a slew of more mundane challenges.
mother goes to bed at 7 p.m. and, as she did when
Rosales was a child, tells her daughter to do the same.
being treated like a child, being told when to turn off
the lights and when to go to sleep," Rosales said.
situation is also trying on elderly parents.
feel the anxiety afflicting their children. Aging people
on fixed incomes also worry that the extra money they
spend on utilities or food will drain their own limited
I use up all of my money, whoís going to help
me?" said Rohrís mother, Penny Goulart.
years of living by herself, the arrival of her daughterís
family threw off the daily rhythms of Goulartís
carefully ordered life.
know itís very difficult on them because they feel
like theyíre invading my space," Goulart said.
"But from my standpoint, Iíve had years of peace
and quiet and I like my house in a certain way.
Everything in its place. All neat and clean, and then
four people move in. Thereís more laundry and more
sleeps in one of the three bedrooms and uses a second
bedroom as her office, Rohr said.
her husband and twin 16-year-old boys squeeze into the
third bedroom. The boys sleep in the bed, and Rohr and
her husband spread blankets on the floor for themselves.
Rohr has learned, even families that generally get along
the family moved in in October, Goulart initially didnít
allow Rohrís husband, Ron, to sleep in the home. He
spent nights in his car on the street.
come from an era when a man takes care of his family
first and foremost," Goulart said. "My thought
was ĎThis is your family. Youíre the head of the
household and you should be supporting them.í "
however, thought her mother was being cruel. "She
would not let him come in the home at all," Rohr
said. "Not to use the restroom. Nothing."
Ron Rohr landed a temporary job, Goulart allowed him
back in the house. "I felt like ĎOK, heís
working. He needs a comfortable bed to sleep in,í
" Goulart said. "Iím not hardhearted."
recently left to visit other family members, and Rohr
said her mother asked her to move out when she returns
in three weeks.
she has for months, Rohr is applying frantically for
jobs. Sheís willing to do anything but has had no
really hard mentally," Rohr said. "You feel
kind of helpless, that you canít provide for your
family anymore and you have to move back home to Momís