As people grow older, they now have many choices about where and how to live. In years past, that decision was essentially limited to moving in with family or going to a nursing or retirement home. Now, many people are perfectly fine living independently in the homes they have grown to love and enjoy over the years.
People may still want to move in with family, and this is where the choices become exciting. 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. The younger members of the family that become the hosts to the older ones desire their presence. When children are present, the older members can assist with child-rearing and supervision by offering a solid connection from another generation and time. In many ways, this is a healthy and effective relationship.
Parents or other relatives or close family friends can move in with their families and take up residence under the same roof, occupying a spare bedroom – preferably one with an attached full bathroom as well. When such accommodations are not already present, the home can be modified (by us) to provide the additional living quarters. Often a coffee/breakfast bar (with refrigerator, coffee maker, and microwave) are included in the bedroom or nearby for their convenience and to leave the kitchen for the rest of the family.
Another type of arrangement that can be made is to create an addition to the main dwelling, subject to there being sufficient space to expand the home within the setback lines and other physical parameters that might be present. In doing the addition, a bedroom, bathroom, closet, sitting area, kitchenette, and separate outside entrance can be created if so desired.
Still another type of dwelling that is a relatively new concept is the auxiliary or accessory dwelling unit – the ADU. This is a small, compact, free-standing building in the backyard of the main residence. Not every jurisdiction allows them but the places where these can be done is growing.
The ADU can be any size as long as it is smaller than the main home, but a typical size is under 500 square feet – often in the 300-400 square foot range. Some are even larger, but the emphasis is on being compact and efficient. Such buildings have the added flexibility of being used as a rental apartment, workshop, studio, playroom, den, or extra bedroom when not needed for the parents.
By living in the accessory building (also known by several other names such as granny flat, granny pod, tiny home, guest suite, and in-law suite), independence is retained along being able to live with the family at the same time. The parents can return to there own separate dwelling as often as they like, but every evening for sure. They can eat with the family, watch TV, help with homework, play games with the family, engage in family conversations, and be part of the family unit but walk to their separate backyard home anytime they like. The host family can watch and monitor general well-being from the main home.
When there was no family to move in with, seniors used to have 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 where they were living. Also, some people simply don’t have younger family members that can take care of them.
Of course. some people may choose to remain living in their own homes where there is a large measure of comfort, convenience, safety, and security. Where there isn’t, we have the opportunity to help make this happen.
Depending on their physical needs and requirements, it’s possible for people to remain in their homes for the long-term and not need to consider leaving or moving in with family. 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.
Family can provide nurturing and a social outlet for people as they age, but living independently is being chosen by more people than ever before as well.