While I’ve been aware that many more families than in the past were looking for ways to care for aging parents within the home, or to simply save on extended family expenses, I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of this movement until I received a review copy of "In-Laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes." Author Michael Litchfield has renovated many homes throughout his life, however after a move to the west coast he became fascinated by some property that offered the option of multiple living units on one home base, so to speak.
Litchfield has become a trend setting author with this new book which, according to the press release, is "the first book to describe this new real estate phenomenon" of doubling up in housing.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which can force a family to look at years of uncertainty as far as how fast the diagnosed person will cognitively and physically decline, is one of the factors leading many families to consider intergenerational housing. Intergenerational housing can allow the elders to live closely with the family, but retain some privacy on both sides. As the person with an illness declines, families occasionally want to add additional rooms for an in-home care person, so additional help is available around the clock.
While I’m aware that not all families will have the financial ability to remodel their home to accommodate elderly parents, for many, combining assets with the elders in order to find convenient and comfortable living options for both generations makes remodeling an economical option in the long run.
Litchfield’s wonderfully illustrated book, complete with floor plans, pointers of how to check legality issues and tips on new products, also contains the personal background stories of people who have chosen to go this route. Without these human stories, the book would be useful and beautiful. With the stories, it is also warm and down to earth.
Each of us faces choices in life, many of which involve the welfare of people we love. "In-laws" is designed to open up the floodgates of your imagination when it comes to how your future could move forward.
Some of the people featured in the book are boomers who themselves want to downsize, so they are taking the "in-law" unit for themselves and renting out the main house. Others want to have a place for their parents to age with the family nearby. Some adult children look at adding on to their home as an investment in their property, since they are aware that one day the "in-law" apartment could bring them rental income.
The AARP "strongly advocates for states to encourage local ordinances (for) accessory dwelling units (ADU)." The press release states that, "A Caldwell Banker survey of agents says that one third of today’s would-be homebuyers are looking for properties with the potential to house multiple generations."
To me, these findings showcase the movement toward finding creative options to care for our aging loved ones. As this book suggests, intergenerational housing was once the norm. Now, according to resources such as Caldwell banker, intergenerational housing is re-emerging as an important type of housing.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate parents or other loved ones into your home life while still giving each generation the desired amount of privacy, I’d strongly suggest a small investment in "In-laws, Outlaws and Grannyflats." It’s a beauty of a book full of inspiration and practical ideas applicable to many lives. "In-laws," published by Taunton Press, is available in bookstores and online.
Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran family caregiver who spent more than two decades caring for a total of seven elders. She is a newspaper columnist and the author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. Bradley Bursack is also a contributor to several books on caregiving and dementia, and is passionate about preserving the dignity of elders. Her website is www.mindingourelders.com. Follow Carol on Twitter @mindingourelder and on Facebook at Minding Our Elders.