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Family Matters: Pitching In To Take Care Of Grandma

On a recent evening, the Martin family of Harrisburg, Pa., had too many places it needed to be.

AnnaBelle Bowers, the 87-year-old matriarch of the family who is also known as "Snootzie," was at home — watching television and getting ready for bed.

Someone needed to care for her. That fell to Chris Martin, her 14-year-old great-grandson.

His willingness to stay at home meant his sister, Lauren, could play in a softball game.

It also meant her parents, David and LaDonna Martin, could watch.

The Martins are faced with decisions like this all the time — and they're one of the families profiled in NPR's Family Matters series. More and more, multigenerational families like the Martins are living under the same roof in order to care for a loved one — and also get by.

LaDonna says nights at the ballpark would be impossible if everybody didn't pitch in to care for Snootzie. That includes the kids.

"I think we expect a little bit more from them," says LaDonna. "They've got to grow up."

It's also forcing the family to think about the future in new ways.

"I hope they're fit when they're 60, 70s, 80s," Lauren says about her parents. "But I know it'll be time when they're in a walker and can't walk anymore and need help ... but I'll be ready when they're old."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.