The family lives of older Americans are no longer as simple or as homogeneous as some historical accounts suggest (Elder, 1981; Hareven, 1978). Three interrelated phenomena, all of which have occurred in the last century, are transforming traditional perceptions and expectations concerning families and the elderly in contemporary American society. The first and most familiar is the “demographic revolution” (Uhlenberg, 1978; Wells, 1982; Watkins, Menken and Bongaarts, 1987). Characterized by declines in mortality and fertility and a rise in divorce, the demographic revolution has “changed the complexion of family life” (Hagestad, 1988, p. 405). Individuals are now more likely to grow older in four- or even five-generation families, spend an unprecedented number of years in family roles such as grandparenthood, and be part of a more complex and varied web of intergenerational family ties (Bengtson, Rosenthal and Burton, 1990; Hagestad, 1986; Riley, 1983).