US News: Should Seniors Live Alone, or in Their Family’s …Garage?

Should seniors live alone? It’s a question posed by U.S. News and World this week in examining the pros and cons of living with family members in retirement.

“Put Grandma in the garage? Yes. But a garage transformed into a well-appointed studio apartment with skylights and a patio for morning coffee,” the article writes.

Home remodeling for retirement is of rising interest to those wondering how they can take care of family members in their late-retirement years.


“Even if the economy improves, it’s a trend that looks to stick as families address graying baby boomers who may be facing an underfunded retirement, according to aging and financial professionals.

In the best and worst of times, the benefit of companionship and shared household duties, such as childcare, can’t be dismissed. For some families, living together is not a solution to a problem but an exercise in bonding. There are also different cultural interpretations of the social value of multigenerational households. But for many families, finances are certainly a factor in their decision to merge under one roof.”

Next Door Garage Apartments (NDGA) is once such company that strongly agrees with “putting Granny in the garage.” The company installs units that convert two-car garages into senior living (or housing for a recent college graduate).


The installation costs $35,000, much less than the 2011 average yearly cost of $87,235 for nursing homes, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute data, points out Barrett Esary, who’s in charge of business development for NDGA.

“Installing a NDGA greatly saves money not only for the client, but also for Medicaid clients’ state funding,” he told SHN. “With your elderly family member living right next door, you are able to triage the medical issues rather than have the elderly member calling an ambulance unnecessarily or going to the doctor. This could drastically reduce the 36% of the nation’s health care costs spent on the population over 65.”

There are barriers to this type of housing conversion, however. First of all, installation can be trickier—and more expensive—for detached garages, or if the house is built on a concrete slab. The other issue has to do with zoning, and Esary says that multigenerational living is “not as widely accepted as one would think.”

“The American society has gotten so far away from taking care of their loved ones that they have influenced building codes to only allow one intact family to live in a house,” he says, adding that the down economy is helping to put pressure on municipalities to change codes to allow multifamily living.

Whether a senior plans to move in with family or to a senior living community, staying at home isn’t the answer for everyone, and U.S. News includes some common myths held by retirees:

• My current home will be the best place to live in retirement. 
• My current home is the best option to lead an active life and stay connected.
• Home is less expensive. 
• It would be easy to get any care I might need at home. 
• Retirement centers are filled with people who are sick and dying.

View the original article.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker and Alyssa Gerace

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