AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mary and Donna Whitworth have always been close.
Not even Donna’s teenage years (they weren’t rebellious, she says) came between the pair, and now that they’re sharing a home in a north Austin senior living community, they say their bond has only gotten stronger.
“We knew that it wouldn’t be a problem living together, and it hasn’t been,” Donna, 71, said.
She and her 95-year-old mom moved in together at Buckner Villas in 2015, eight years after Mary’s husband died following six decades of marriage. When she was ready to sell her home and move into a senior community, Donna said she “invited [herself] along.”
It’s not the typical story of a parent and grown child moving into the same house. The practice came to prominence following the Great Recession, which forced some struggling Millennials to move back home as the economy faltered. A 2018 Pew Research Center study found the number of parents living in their children’s homes has doubled since 1995, from 7 percent to 14 percent of all adults living in someone else’s home.
But this is an entirely different scenario, one the marketing director at Buckner Villas said he’s never seen in his 17 years at the senior community.
“One of my doctors said to me, ‘And you care for your mother?'” Donna chuckled. “And I said, ‘No, my mother cares for me.'”
Truthfully, they care for one another in different ways. Mary, as anyone would, had a hard time when her husband died.
“I just felt so lost. We met quite young, and we married quite young, and we had over 66 years, blessed years, together,” she said. “It took me a while to adjust.”
Moving in with her daughter brings Mary comfort, just as living with her mother brings comfort to Donna as she fights health issues that occasionally require her to use a walker to get around the complex.
“We’ve always depended on each other a lot and helped each other,” Donna said, “and with just the two of us, it’s even more so.”
If their relationship was strong before, the two say it’s only gotten stronger over the last three and a half years.
“Donna’s been my crutch, my mainstay,” Mary said, seated next to her daughter in their living room. “And I’m so grateful for the her and grateful for the person she is.”
“Well,” Donna replied, smiling, “guess who raised me to be the person I am?”