Today, as people grow older, they have several options about where they might want to live. This differs from the past when that decision was essentially limited to moving in with family (children, grandchildren, or siblings) or going to a nursing or retirement home. This was before the aging in place concept took off and people realized they had other options, including not moving at all and staying put in their present home.
People may still want to move in with family. There is value in that but some downsides as well. The extended family of multiple generations is desired by many people, and it seems to work well when families already have a close relationship. The parents or other senior members of the family (aunts, uncles, or older siblings) are embraced as vital, essential members of the family. When children are present, the older members can assist with childrearing and supervision while offering a solid connection from another generation and time. In many ways, this is a healthy and effective relationship.
When there is not a strong existing relationship and the older family members are taken in out of a sense of family responsibility, there can be tension an resentment. The seniors who are relocating to live within the home of a younger family member need to recognize and appreciate that they are invited guests and govern their conduct accordingly. Even though everyone is family and can be themselves in front of the other family members, their presence may initially be disruptive.
Previously, when there was no family to move in with, seniors had to consider nursing homes or retirement centers as the place to live when they felt that they couldn’t maintain their own residence or decided they needed the company or companionship of others – that they weren’t getting living on their own. Also, some people simply don’t have younger family members that can take care of them.
Today, there are at least four other options or opportunities for seniors to consider besides a retirement facility – regardless of their health or physical abilities. The biggest change that has occurred in recent years is for people to continue living in their present homes – and to be encouraged to do so.
Depending on their physical needs and requirements, it’s possible for people to remain in their homes and age in place for the long-term and not need to consider leaving. They can just go on living where they are comfortable and where they are among familiar surroundings – both inside their home and in the neighborhood.
While people have likely been doing this on an individual basis over the years, there now is a concerted effort to encourage people to remain independent and to live where they are as long as they feel that they can. There are even caregivers and agencies that can assist them to continue their independence.
People can also move in with family by moving into their backyard in what is known as an accessory or auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU). They have other names such as grannypod, in-law quarters, or tiny home. The advantage is that they are living with family but not fulltime under the same roof. Not everyplace allows this yet, but this is a growing trend.
Two other options, in addition to living where they are right now and just continuing in their current homes, is living together with other seniors in a group home situation where several of them can share a living space – each with their own bedroom and common areas for their other needs. Think of this as housemates. This is run by a live-in building manager to see that everyone’s needs (including meals) are met. The advantage is that there is a community of people who can socialize and experience life together as they age.
The second alternative is similar. Someone who already has a home can take in one or a few other people as renters to provide companionship and share the expenses. Rather than trying to keep up a residence by themselves, the homeowner can have others to rely on, and everyone can enjoy the other’s company.
In short, there are living arrangement options for seniors!