Floor plan Review 1st floor Aging in Place

Beth K
September 30, 2013

Would appreciate any feedback on the attached floor plan. This is a traditional style ranch home. We have never built before and find the process scary. My husband has a bad back and we desire a home that will accommodate us as we age. We do see wheelchairs in our future. We are attempting to build using universal design elements wide hallways and doorways, etc. We have a 3 acre lot and we realize that the home is quite large approx 5000 sq ft 1st floor, but will not have a 2nd floor, but an elevator to the basement. Any comments, please :)

Comments (59)

  • Oaktown

    Just to throw out some thoughts about downsizing, access, etc.

    Would you consider a "family compound" rather than a single large house, if it makes sense for your climate and zoning? You could have (1) an accessible main house, perhaps 3br, 2ba for yourself and your husband; (2) a guest wing/bunk house -- or two -- for visiting relatives; (3) a "party barn" or gathering area for big get togethers. That way you would not have the maintenance, heating, etc. for spaces that are not in use, everyone could be afforded some privacy, and you wouldn't have to be so concerned with accessibility for all of the guest quarters.

    As for the comments above about folks not being interested in "aging in place" features, that also has been our experience, so kudos to you for considering it. Our household will have folks in their 70s and 80s who do not want us to build a ramp to grade outside because it would make them feel "old." (We have a spot picked out for future ramp.)

    Good luck!



    [Traditional Exterior[( by Decatur Landscape Architects & Designers Hooten Land Design, Inc.



    [Contemporary Exterior[( by Seattle Architects & Designers David Vandervort Architects



    [Mediterranean Exterior[( by Austin Architects & Designers Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

  • mrspete

    I do agree that it's great for a family to have a place to gather, and I have wonderful memories of my cousins and extended family -- mostly at my grandparents. However, as I think back, my grandparents lived first in a large bungalow (probably 3000 sf), then moved to a small two-bedroom apartment (probably 1000 sf), and then to a ranch house (I know it was 2400 sf). In some locations, we had more room to spread out than others, but we "fit" just fine.

    I grew up in a 1700 sf farmhouse (literally on a farm, not just a style), and since we had so much outdoor space, our house was often the site of summer outings. Again, we all fit.

    I think Oaktown gave some very good ideas about making a retirement house /aging in place house viable for a couple . . . and also for entertaining the whole family. Much of Oaktown's post echoes the stuff you read in architecture books about large spaces coupled with small spaces . . . protected spaces vs. open spaces, and it sounds like good sense to me.

    One more thought:

    I just lost a dear, dear relative who was extremely old, and I was very involved in her car in these last years. I noticed various things that were difficult for her, and I've tried to think through how I could avoid those in the house we're building;

    - Someone mentioned thresholds. Those were difficult for her. The change from hardwood to carpet (even without a bump) was also a difficulty for her.
    - Showering was an issue for her. I read somewhere that the ability to bathe oneself is typically the first thing that "goes" for elderly people. If I could do only one thing "right" in my retirement house, I'd have it be the bathroom.
    - Laundry was impossible for her in the last year. Not because she couldn't do it but because she couldn't carry the basket.
    - She couldn't manage the kitchen at all towards the end, but she enjoyed her mini-fridge near her easy chair.
    - She really enjoyed the big window near her table, which allowed her to see out into her garden.

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    I would like to speak as handicapped for 4 years. Most of the people in stores etc. in wheel chairs are there because they cannot walk great distances. the ramps everyone wants, I would run out of air before i got to the bottom. Eliminate steps, or make them very small and very few, do not plan on those long ramps. please look at statistics, the majority of disabled during mid life or older suffer lung, heart or muscle/joint/bone problems and pain. The results are the same, many many people can make it to the bathroom or around their home as long as it is one level and not a great distance, those extra wide bathrooms and halls would be too much. If you watch you will see many people get up out of the little go carts and walk to their car. Are they not handicapped? no, though I wish i were so lucky, they just are capable of that much and no more. I have a walker, i use a cart. in my house, i use neither, though in the winter. i have chairs scattered around so i can sit and catch my breath. Make everything so you do not reach above your head or below your knees. make all handles levers. staircases? while you still have the money get the lift that takes you up and down. Make your toilets taller. Have a walk in shower with a stool and a lower shower and a walk in tub. have a place in the bathroom for a slide in out high stool. make sure you have room for a larger bed, maybe get one of the kinds now where the head raises up. get bars so you can grab them when unsteady, or you missed the fact the cat threw up and you slip in it. Make sure you have extra plugs in appropriate spots. My oxygen hose (40% of former oxygen capacity) is always getting hung up on things. At night I have a ventilator too. Oh yes it is so much fun. So I need those relatively close. Are you in a community where you can have a golf cart, plan on that now, while you have the funds. My kitchen bottom cabinets stick out too far, so i can't reach the upper ones, I also can not reach the back of those lowers. We are going to tear out most of the cabinets, hang as much as possible, put a pantry in where things i normally need are on the best shelves for me. baskets below so i can just pull out the basket. Brave move, there is a pbs chef - Hugh keller I think - stupid brain burps! He does his show cooking on the small electric appliance, he smokes things everything. I too have found that often they cook fast and efficiently. So i eliminating the stove where i can not reach the back burners anyway. I have a stainless steel table, i think 30x30. that can be moved over by the sink when i cook - putting it on wheels. i will have a stool, plug in the items i need and have the sink right there. I can sit the whole time i cook, then wash up! I deserve this sit and cook thing. I refused to watch Paul prudhomme, because I said i was not going to become like him. Well true, i am not like him, but i do now have to sit to cook just like him. Those things always come back to bite you. tehehe But please look up the statistics, usually you only need the wheel chair right before you go to the nursing home or for a short while. Often a Screen and a portable chair will serve for that time.
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  • bird_lover6

    I think it's wonderful when you can afford to maintain a large place for the family to continue to gather. At the moment, I have six kids, three kids-in-law, and am going on my fourth grandchild, so that gathering space is very important to me, as well.

    However, if and when I could afford to build that last retirement home, I would have plenty of bedrooms for the kids, a bunk room, and call me crazy, but I plan on having large communal, but separate bathrooms for males and females (think dorm baths with a couple of shower stalls each, lots of counter space and sinks to get ready), because I just won't be able to afford six or seven bathrooms!

    Anyway, however we plan these homes, I think it's wise to plan a separate sleeping and bath wing that can be closed off when everyone goes home. It will have the added benefit of being a quiet place for your guests to retreat away from the living areas.

    We vacation almost every year in a very large house, but everyone is spread out and with so many people, there's noise here and there all over the house. I would want to avoid that pitfall if I can.

    Good luck!

  • bird_lover6

    I think it's wonderful when you can afford to maintain a large place for the family to continue to gather. At the moment, I have six kids, three kids-in-law, and am going on my fourth grandchild, so that gathering space is very important to me, as well.

    However, if and when I could afford to build that last retirement home, I would have plenty of bedrooms for the kids, a bunk room, and call me crazy, but I plan on having large communal, but separate bathrooms for males and females (think dorm baths with a couple of shower stalls each, lots of counter space and sinks to get ready), because I just won't be able to afford six or seven bathrooms!

    Anyway, however we plan these homes, I think it's wise to plan a separate sleeping and bath wing that can be closed off when everyone goes home. It will have the added benefit of being a quiet place for your guests to retreat away from the living areas.

    We vacation almost every year in a very large house, but everyone is spread out and with so many people, there's noise here and there all over the house. I would want to avoid that pitfall if I can.

    Good luck!

  • lavender_lass

    I'm working, so just a quick note. It may already have been mentioned, but I would NOT want the toilet so far from the bed. This was a challenge for my grandmother.. It can take longer to get out of bed, when you have health problems...leaving you less time for the trip, if you know what I mean.

    Maybe swap the bedroom and seating area and have a doorway closer to the toilet room, from the bed. You also might post the kitchen on the kitchen forum.

  • redheadeddaughter

    Oh some good wisdom here I am putting away for when I need it too...

    I just have 2 more things to add:
    1) If you are ever in a situation where daily or 24 hour care is needed, being able to have it in your home (having the space for a live in caregiver) is much more affordable than paying for a good facility. At least in our area this is true... I know from experience. And I'd rather have a home to leave to my kids, and pay an in home caregiver, than spend the value of the house on 5 years in a facility.

    2) This may sound silly, but my mother, who is in a wheelchair and has been for 20 years, has expressed a great desire to someday have one of those walk in tubs... where the side door closes and you can sit in it like a chair and the water fills up around you? I don't even know what they are called, but I think for sore wheelchair bound muscles it would be a real treat. Regular tubs are impossible for her to maneuver in... but most wheelchairs do not need a 5' turning radius. My mom's turns on a dime with half that space. A larger man a little more. They make awesome wheelchairs now!

    Oh and I guess there is a number 3 ;) - I'm biased about holidays. I think the memories created during those times (good and bad) seem to stick around more than any others. Especially for children. Just a thought while you are disagreeing with your architect!

    Oaktown: Oh my goodness what wonderful homes those are! Do you think my grandchildren will flock to me for the summer if I build a house like that someday? :)

  • Jack Kennedy

    I thought of another issue in the bathroom. The toilet in the small room..... You would most likely want to be able to wheel the chair in next to the toilet. Otherwise it will be very difficult to use for someone in a wheelchair. Think about the handicap stalls in public restrooms. They are the size they are so they will function, the grab bars are also a code requirement in a commercial space. They would not be a code requirement in a residential setting, but they may help in ease of use.


  • mrspete

    I'll second what redhaireddaughter said: We are planning a small house that'll suit us . . . and it'll have space upstairs that could one day be used by one of our children/grandchildren or a paid care giver. We're purposefully putting it upstairs so that it'll feel a bit more private and separate. My grandmother spent a good decade in the stage of "I can live on my own just fine, but I need someone to help me with heavy cleaning and driving." That's a prime consideration for us in planning our house.

    And a thought about glenwood's comment on safety grab bars: You may not need them today, but it'd be wise to install plywood (not just semi-flimsy drywall) in the places where you're likely to need them in the future. This'll allow you to add bars later without ripping out tile, etc. This is one of those things that can cost you pennies today or dollars tomorrow.

  • lavender_lass

    Grab bars are wonderful! I wish I had them in both bathrooms. Most accidents happen in the home and a lot of those are in the bathroom. Grab bars in showers are such a good idea! If they had more style options (maybe they do?) and were more common, I think people wouldn't resist them so much. Our society has this attitude that it's for older and sick people...but they're great for everyone.

    As for the toilet, we have ours in a separate area and the contractor added handicap access, just fine. He took out the small door and added an arch with the grab bars. It would have been easy to make a larger pocket door, if we were building new. Just don't have them swing in...too easy to get trapped, with a fall.

    That being said, privacy is one of the first things to go, when you have an accident or illness. Luckily my husband isn't too shy and he's getting so much better, he's starting to do more things for himself :)

    This post was edited by lavender_lass on Wed, Oct 2, 13 at 12:11

  • live_wire_oak

    I think you should do an exercise where you chart your daily movements in your current house. Which rooms do you use? How much time do you spend in those rooms? Which of your activities could be combined into a single mult-purpose room, instead of broken out into individually purposed rooms.

    Large houses are great family homes, and great for extended families as well. But, be sure you are planning something that will suit you for that 75% of the time that it is just you two. That could be a tri-level home, with the basement and upstairs able to be shut off behind a door, and reserved only for visitors. It could be "wings" or separate guest houses. But, think about the time that just you two spend without the family. I just have this vision of one at one end and the other at the other end yelling, "Hellooooooo" and listening to the echo of the empty space where your voice doesn't even reach the other end of the house. Which, if you have health issues, would be far more of a tragedy than a comedy.

  • mrspete

    Live Wire Oak, you've hit upon what I dislike about oversized houses for couples: The vast majority of the time you aren't entertaining and don't have family or friends filling those rooms. And oversized rooms feel lonely and empty when it's "just you two".

    The best idea is to plan a house that's flexible enough to feel cozy, yet also accommodate larger groups. I don't think this house has hit the mark in that regard.

  • virgilcarter

    There are so many posts here obviously from younger people still in good health and with full energy! As an empty nester, above 70 (72 in September) someone needs to say the following.

    When one gets to a certain age, say 65-70, ones health and energy level may change substantially. Even if one is in good health. By this age chances are that one has endured injuries and illnesses too many to count. Major procedures such as hip replacement, knee replacement, bursitis, spinal surgery, heart surgery, cancer have all been encountered. Even if one still has "full" mobility, negotiating stairs and multi levels in a house becomes a difficult and challenging chore that many would like to avoid.

    Cooking with fresh foods often gives way to not really want to cook much at all. The result is eating out and cooking frozen meals using a microwave. The major kitchen appliances used are a microwave and a dishwasher!

    Daily activities frequently include a daily nap. Early to bed and late to rise become more common. Laundry becomes a major chore, particularly if dirty clothes have to go downstairs to the laundry (and back upstairs when clean).

    Extensive (and regular) house cleaning and outdoor yard and garden maintenance become difficult or impossible. Even when one knows it has to be done, one avoids it! Significant house maintenance, inside and out, has to be done by others. Simple house chores takes days to start and complete.

    One's daily living habits are often largely limited to bedroom/bath, kitchen and family room/television room/office--where one can do everything one wants to do in a day's time.

    All of this is to say, if one hasn't reached this point in their life, they simply haven't yet experienced what a "normal" lifestyle is like at this stage of life. Before reaching this point in life one probably doesn't understand what they haven't yet experienced.

    If one is "south" of age 70 the view may be much different than when one is "north" of that age.

    It doesn't take a 5,000 SF house on 5 acres to support this type of lifestyle, even it that was common and enjoyable at an earlier age. It really only takes a few rooms on one level for an enjoyable and productive lifestyle at this point in one's life. This simplicity makes daily life even more enjoyable.

    As much as we older folks enjoy seeing family and having them over regularly, the family must make a transition too! That transition is that many of their parents (or grandparents) don't really need or want a large place, can't easily or economically maintain one, and it's a great deal of work to get everything "ready" for the family visit. And to clean up afterwards!

    Thus, thinking about one's "age in place" home depends a lot on which side of 70 one may be.

    Hope this helps. Of course, whatever works for an "older" individual is what's right for them. Just don't be surprised at what changes take place around age 70 or thereafter.

    And who knows--perhaps everyone commenting in this thread is over 70, on the senior Olympic team and enjoying their large multi-level house on large acreage land! If so, good for you!

    Just a thought that hasn't yet been expressed. Good luck on your project.

  • lavender_lass

    Virgil- This is in response to what you said, not the OP.

    Do you think people sometimes want a larger home, in hopes that family WILL come visit more often? Or are they just used to being the ones to host family events? Or both? I hadn't really considered this, before.

    For me, I have decades until I get there, but I have seen the toll it took on my grandma and pretty soon, with my mom. She is very active, but she just downsized and is thrilled with the low maintenance.

    Every person's situation is different, but she likes to maintain her own home and garden, so she wanted something she could do on her own, for the most part :)

  • mrspete

    VirgilCarter, you've described to a T many of the changes I saw in my grandmother, whom I mentioned in a previous post. But she was old enough to make you look like a spring chicken!

    It wasn't necessarily that she didn't want to continue cooking; rather, she didn't have the energy to do it, and it wasn't economical or practical to cook that way for one person. She did, however, continue to love to eat good food! She loved for me to take her out to lunch (and the leftovers lasted her a couple meals). And she loved for me to come over with groceries and cook at her house -- and leave plenty of leftovers. But, yes, when she was on her own, she ate a lot of microwave foods.

    Another thing we did: She loved to host parties and it was easier for her to stay home than to make a trip to someone else's house, but it was more than she could manage. So we continued holding big family meals at her house . . . But all she had to do was have the house ready (and one of us girls always showed up a few days ahead of time to do the heavy work), and we all brought the food. And, of course, we never left her with a mess. She loved this because it allowed her to continue to host parties, even if it wasn't the same way she'd done it when she was younger.

  • virgilcarter

    Lavender, you are right: everyone is different, at least until some point in their lifespan.

    At some point, almost everyone finds that they have reached the limits of their energy and physical endurance, regardless of their mental and emotional conditions. In other words, I very much enjoy seeing my daughters and grand children under any circumstances. But it's often easier (for my wife and I) and more convenient to visit them (and stay in a B&B), than have them visit with us in our house.

    There's a couple of reasons for this: 1) Our daughters, husbands and children have such a life schedule with work, school and extra curricular activities that it's more difficult and challenging for them to arrange their diverse, often conflicting schedules to travel to our house than vice-versa; 2) Preparing out house for extended visits, cooking, cleaning and entertaining for a week or more, and then cleaning up afterwards has triggered health problems more than once due to the tremendous physical and emotional energy that's involved.

    I think many older folks, like us, want to live independently and actively. The way this may happen best is like your mother--downsize, make our lives simple and stress-free, minimize the "must do" energy consuming daily tasks and leave time and energy for doing what we want and enjoy. Including an afternoon nap!

    For those south of age 70, this may be new knowledge. For those north of 70 it's common knowledge!

    For us, rather than a retirement home, an "age-in-place" home for us is preferable--a simple design that is based around how we prefer to spend our days in our independent living, and perhaps, at some future point, with limited mobility when that may come.

    As a retired architect, and former head of a university school of architecture, I understand that one's home design priorities, experiences and expectations are vastly different when one has elementary school-aged children than compared with when one has reached age 70 (or more).

    Thus, if our family wants to come and visit us (and we hope they do), they can stay at a local B&B or motel (we'll pay if necessary; it's not a cost issue) and spend their days with us in our small, manageable home on the back deck and patio or other family oriented activities . It makes no sense to me to pay for and try to maintain (or pay to be maintained) a huge home for family that may visit 1-2 times a year for a week.

    Of course our family is spread from New York (soon France) to Texas, while we live outside Philadelphia! But I suspect I'd feel the same if our family was within walking distance.

    Everyone's different, so whatever works is what's best!

  • debrak2008


    I actually think those younger than 70 who are posting here are doing a good job with suggestions. As I alluded to in my post there seems to be a lot of seniors who are in denial of their actual needs. My own mother struggles with some of these issues. She tended to look at downsizing as being one step close to death. When helping her do some spring cleaning of her apartment I suggested donating some of her clothes. (She has enough clothes for 3 people and still buys more). She admitted that giving things away (having less stuff) makes her get the thought that we just want to make things easier on us when she passes away. She immediately said she knows this is not true but that getting rid of things makes her think she is giving her life away.

    You have an excellent attitude! Have fun when you grow older and not be burdened with housework and dealing with "stuff".

    Grab rails are one excellent example. They are now making very cool looking grab rails. People my age, 40 something, think they are a great idea and should be installed in every bathroom. Many seniors don't want them in their bathroom. Huh???

    Personally, I think that many ideas of universal design could and should be incorporated in all new housing. When done well, no one would even notice.

  • bird_lover6

    I think a lot of the advice was given assuming that this home was being built by someone who could afford to maintain such a large home.

    My own mother has downsized to a very small home, and has trouble maintaining that on her own. On the other hand, my mother in law has a huge home, and has no trouble maintaining it with daily domestic help. Nor does she have any problems affording the domestic help. :)

    However, were my mother-in-law building today and not decades ago, I would encourage her to design the house so that her own daily "footprint" was smaller while the rest of the house could be closed off unless needed. As she gets older, it is difficult to move from her bedroom to her favorite "sitting room" on the complete other side of her sprawling one-story ranch.

    I also think that many folks who plan to "build large" currently may get by with only weekly cleaning help. They do need to realize that as they age, they will need more than weekly help just to keep the house clean, never mind factoring in cooking and personal care. Fortunately, my mother in law always had daily help, so she was accustomed to paying for it.

    This post was edited by bird_lover6 on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 8:39

  • zone4newby


    I understand wanting to have room for family gatherings, but I think you're overshooting. My ILs have 8 kids, 6 kids-in-law, and 12 grandchildren between them (my MIL passed away a few years ago and my FIL remarried a lovely woman with kids from a previous marriage). Their 1800 sq. ft. home works great for family gatherings. They have a big family meal at least every 6 weeks. Not everyone is there every time, and it is cozy when we all make it, but they certainly don't need another 3000 sq ft. to make it work.

    And because they are in a smaller home with a yard maintained by their HOA, they can travel easily and otherwise spend their energy the way they choose.

    Something else to keep in mind: people who can afford and want a 5000 sq ft. retirement home are few and far between, and therefore this house may have limited resale value. If you are so well off that you can afford not to think about that, wonderful. If you are planning to sell this house should you one day need to move to a nursing home, you might want to consider building something smaller that would be easier to resell.

  • bird_lover6

    I agree that most don't need a large house. There's no way I could afford nor want to build a 5,000 square foot house.

    Unfortunately, many families are far flung these days, and we who have these children living far way frequently welcome them back for one or two week periods a few times a year.

    If money were not a concern for me (and it most certainly is), I would do everything I could to make the house large enough and comfortable enough that they would want to continue to come home. As their familes are growing, it's getting more difficult to sleep so many people comfortably for any length of time. Even a nice bunk room would come in handy right now. :)

    But I do know what you mean. I grew up in a small town with all my relatives very nearby. It was nothing for twenty folks to gather on a Sunday afternoon in my grandparents' small two bedroom bungalow while my grandfather cooked a big pot of gumbo. People overflowed outside and in the garage. And the house was hot as heck, too! Ugh LOL

    We didn't know we "needed" all that space. :)

  • bird_lover6

    I agree that most don't need a large house. There's no way I could afford nor want to build a 5,000 square foot house.

    Unfortunately, many families are far flung these days, and we who have these children living far way frequently welcome them back for one or two week periods a few times a year.

    If money were not a concern for me (and it most certainly is), I would do everything I could to make the house large enough and comfortable enough that they would want to continue to come home. As their familes are growing, it's getting more difficult to sleep so many people comfortably for any length of time. Even a nice bunk room would come in handy right now. :)

    But I do know what you mean. I grew up in a small town with all my relatives very nearby. It was nothing for twenty folks to gather on a Sunday afternoon in my grandparents' small two bedroom bungalow while my grandfather cooked a big pot of gumbo. People overflowed outside and in the garage. And the house was hot as heck, too! Ugh LOL

    We didn't know we "needed" all that space. :)

  • zone4newby

    FWIW, I think staying in a hotel is often more comfortable than staying with family. The folks who live out of town might prefer you don't build a bunkhouse that makes them feel they have to stay in your house, instead of at the Holiday Inn Express up the street.

    Especially if you have a really large family. It's so much easier for everyone to get the space they need at a hotel than to cram everyone into a couple guestrooms.

    My parents' house has enough room to hold my family comfortably, but if all my siblings are there, somebody's going to be on a pull out sofa in the basement or sleeping on the floor. And the house is still big enough that they will likely need to sell it before they are ready for full time nursing care, because it'll be too much to maintain.

  • mrspete

    I like the idea of having a HOA to maintain the yard. It's one more thing with which you don't have to bother. I've been trying to get someone reliable to do my yard, and I've not had much success. And with the outside "done", that leaves more time for the inside.

    I do agree with the poster who says that the people who can afford (and can afford to maintain and want to maintain) a 5000 house are few and far between . . . and I'd add that those people are likely to want to build their own house, in their own way rather than buy a resale. So IF it becomes necessary to sell the house, it won't be easy. I'd also point out that if you have multiple children, you shouldn't tie up a majority of your assets in the house -- makes it tough to divide things among the children in your will.

    Paying for the families to stay in a moderate hotel is almost certainly less expensive than building /maintaining space for everyone. However, that may not be everyone's idea of "a visit", and everyone doesn't live in a place where hotels are located conveniently nearby.

    Finally, people are assuming that elderly = wheelchair. If my family is any indication, this isn't necessarily true. If you're talking about an accident, which could befall any of us today, a person might end up in a wheelchair immediately, but if we're talking about the natural progression of aging, it tends to look more like this:

    - You're fine in the house, where you're familiar with the layout. You place chairs here and there for handholds, you place a chair in the kitchen in the spot you like to sit to talk on the phone and do your prep work . . . but when you go out, you use a cane.

    - After a while, you start using the cane in the house as well.

    - After another while, you keep using the cane at home, but you start using a walker when you go out.

    - Then the walker becomes an all-the-time-thing.

    - Some people progress on to using the walker in the house, but they use a wheelchair when they go out.

    - Then they start using the electric scooters at Walmart (and similar places) when they're available, but they don't have one of their own.

    - And a few people progress on to using the wheelchair all the time in the house. Most people who reach this stage can still walk a bit. For example, I have a severely handicapped student right now who uses an electric wheelchair to get to class, but she is able to pull her chair up to the handicapped bathroom door and enter the room unassisted. It's not easy for her, but -- like most folks in wheelchairs -- she can walk a few steps.

    - It's relatively few people who are 100% wheelchair bound and are entirely immobile.

    Is there a point? Maybe not. Since none of us know whether we'll be in the most severe category, it makes sense to plan the space. But it also makes sense to put your best efforts into the smaller things that are likely to make a bigger difference for most of us: Safety rails in the shower, door latches instead of door knobs, flat thresholds between rooms, a kitchen with fewer out-of-reach things, at least one exterior door with few steps, and so forth -- these are things that ALMOST EVERYONE will appreciate. The space for a wheelchair to turn around is less likely to be needed.

  • debrak2008

    Yard work is a whole 'nother story.

    To my DH yard work is not work but part of the joy of living. We live in the burbs now on 1/2 an acre. To retire he wants at least 20 acres. If he couldn't work outside he would not want to live, not joking.

  • redheadeddaughter

    Just a(nother) note: Staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast isn't quite what it used to be even 10 years ago. We have yet to find a bed and breakfast who will actually take a family with young children (except one lovely one in Door County, Wisconsin, and even they wouldn't allow babies). And hotels usually limit the number of people (even) kids allowed in each room. My brother's family, for example, would need 3 rooms all with an adult present. And of course there are only 2 adults! So without investing in a huge suite, if you can find one available, that kind of solution just isn't practical for big families.

    Now if you live in neighboring towns or even driving distance of 2 hours or less, getting together in a smaller space would be just fine. But good relationships are not formed over 2 hour meals while everyone is staying in a hotel (even if that were possible). There is just something about gathering together that is impossible to replicate.

    When cost is an issue, as it is with my parents and many others, I think it is wonderful when the kids chip in and make it happen by renting out houses for holidays, etc. In their case, and with many others as well, physical limitations prevent them from being the "home base" and providing help and training with the young ones. I have hosted many a holiday at my parents home before we grew to so many we no longer could cook a full meal in that kitchen without losing our minds! And of course we were careful not to leave messes when we left. I think if other homes (and ovens!) are closer together this might work better.

    But sometimes (not pointing any fingers here, just personal observation), it's less a question of energy after 70 and more a matter of selfishness. The smaller home deters extended stays and transfers the responsibility to the young families, and the grandparents just have to be less involved. In meal prep, in laundry, in character training, in child care. It is a huge strain (and joy) to raise children in a multi-generational way. I've seen grandparents go both ways on this. Sometimes a younger perspective isn't always the less informed. I've long ago given up thinking just because someone has years on them, they automatically have wisdom! And before anyone is personally offended... I'm thinking specifically those who have plenty of energy (and financial resources) to maintain an RV (again, personal experience on this one!), travel the continent, and putter around in a large garden (a huge amount of physical labor, and back strain), play golf 5 days a week, and care for 3 or more cats and dogs...all while trying to wiggle out of doing all that much as grandparents. Except buy Christmas presents and send their adult children to hotels. Just saying. Sometimes it's a decision that's made for convenience, and not just a result of being over 70 and lacking energy. And now I know I've said too much...but I'm going to post it because...

    I truly believe the relationships that children have with their grandparents and aunts and uncles can influence them as much (and sometimes more!) than their own parents and peers. Just imagine the grandmother listening to a new reader while she crochets on the porch (little ones loooove to have grown ups listen to them), or sitting on the pool steps watching a newly learned swimming stroke, or a grandfather teaching a couple of cousins how to run the lawnmower or fix a fence or plant a watermelon patch... and come back and watch them grow! We have an entire generation that has been essentially raised by their friends... their in depth adult interaction has been so limited. So I am an advocate for a return to that responsibility if physically able. This goes both ways: I also think my generation (40's ish) should saddle up and watch out for their own parents. It's hard to do when you have young children. (lest you forget Virgil Carter, the energy and cost involved in raising them!) Honestly I'm still struggling to do my part. But, like many, I'm the generational workhorse, carrying the load for both the older and the younger, so I think my voice is still of value, in spite of being "south of 70." :) "Simple" isn't always better, and there is something to be said for a bit of sacrifice at any age.

    All this to say (after completely hijacking this thread): Yay! to the OP for going against the common belief that downsizing is better because it is easier. ;) I love your house and all it's fun rooms and my children would love to come and visit you if they were related! I think it's a great investment if you can build it. Oh and a bunk room is a fabulous idea! Maybe even the younger parents could actually get a hotel and leave their children (and cousins) at the house to have a sleepover!?

    This post was edited by redheadeddaughter on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 13:58

  • zone4newby

    Redheadeddaughter, I think my ILs have substantially more energy to spend on their grandchildren because they have a home that requires less of them.

    And while they were able to find a smaller house that works for them to host family (and even house a small family that got hit by the recession and needed help getting back on their feet), if they hadn't, that wouldn't be selfish, it would be responsible. It makes more sense for the big gatherings to be at homes that also house lots of people. Demanding that older people remain in homes that are too big for them because younger people don't want to host gatherings or pay for hotel rooms and calling it "selfish" if they don't is myopic IMO.

  • akshars_mom

    Redheadeddaughter, Just wanted to say I really love your point of view on Families.

  • mrspete

    Debrak2008, I understand what you're saying about a man for whom working outside IS life, but he may come to the point that what now requires an hour . . . takes a day. I'm thinking of my grandfather, who had been a carpenter all his life. He could take on a moderate-sized project, figure up how much lumber he'd need (in his head), and then go to the store and come back (in one trip) with all he needed. When he built his last project -- a ramp -- he fiddled with the numbers for days, and then got it wrong anyway. I agree that continuing to putter around in the garden may be a great hobby, but in future years he might not want to be pushed to take care of acres and acres.

    Redheadeddaughter, I could not disagree more. It's parents' responsibility to raise their children. If grandparents, aunts and uncles are involved, it absolutely benefits the children -- but it isn't wrong of them to want to pursue their own interests. It's certainly not selfish. You may have chosen to accept responsibility for extended family, but that was a choice.

    Also, you describe idyllic family gatherings in which everyone's happily and positively involved in intergenerational sharing, and you imply "if you build it, they will come" -- or, if you build it, these things will happen. Not necessarily true. I have memories of being tormented by older cousins -- always outside the hearing of the adults, of course. I have memories of family members drinking to excess. I remember that the adults always compared us cousins, and we hated it -- we didn't like being put into the box as "the smart one" vs. "the pretty one". As an adult, I have one cousin who always manages to ruin family gatherings; we're not too unhappy when he doesn't show up. Don't get me wrong -- I have plenty of positive memories, but you can't ignore the difficult side of family. We have to live in the real world.

    Zone4Newby, I totally agree. Each of us have only so many resources. I definitely want to "spend" my limited time and money on people . . . not maintenance of an oversized house. The quality of interaction between the family is not dependent upon the size of the house. If so, my family would've gone to seed years ago.

    This post was edited by MrsPete on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 13:45

  • redheadeddaughter

    zone4newby: I agree with you in most situations, and certainly when finances are tight. As I said, my own parents could never manage it. It sounds like your IL's have found a great happy medium.

    I'm thinking of situations where the energy and money is clearly spent on themselves, and not on their extended family, as a clear attempt to evade the work. The result is children never even wanting to visit because it is such a chore. I've seen this in action, and I'm sure you have too. It's pure selfishness, and it's culturally acceptable now, sadly.

    I'm not demanding that they choose to spend their energy elsewhere, I'm just suggesting that the benefits are widely underestimated and I want to encourage it, especially if there are no other options for family get togethers, and the money is there. It's not a position that is shared often on these boards and I wanted the OP to hear it.

    That said, there are plenty of 40 year olds that are selfish too! And I struggle with that daily. I've also had my myopic moments, I admit. ;) I just don't think this is one of them.

    This post was edited by redheadeddaughter on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 13:55

  • live_wire_oak

    The NKBA has developed an online course covering design for aging in place. It's only $59 for non-members. It would be a good place to start for anyone interested in building a "forever" home.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchens and Baths for Aging in Place

  • bird_lover6

    I don't think anyone is being selfish for not maintaining a big home and I don't think that is what Red is implying, but I do get what Red is saying. When the overall lifestyle is selfish, it's...sad. People are free to live their own lives, and I think it's great that the older generations can look forward to more than cooking, knitting, and fishing, but kids know when they aren't remotely a priority to their grandparents.

    Mine definitely knew, which is why I refuse to be that way with my own grandkids. I intend to give my grandchildren what my own children did not have. They have no desire to visit their grandmothers, while I still visit mine at 97 years of age.

    And no, I'm not talking about being their perpetual babysitter and a slave at their beck and call. I have my own life; it's just that I'm making them a much bigger part of my life than the previous generation did with my children. Their loss, I'm afraid, which they now quite painfully realize.

    Sorry this is so far off topic, but I get what you are saying, Red.

  • bird_lover6

    I don't think anyone is being selfish for not maintaining a big home and I don't think that is what Red is implying, but I do get what Red is saying. When the overall lifestyle is selfish, it's...sad. People are free to live their own lives, and I think it's great that the older generations can look forward to more than cooking, knitting, and fishing, but kids know when they aren't remotely a priority to their grandparents.

    Mine definitely knew, which is why I refuse to be that way with my own grandkids. I intend to give my grandchildren what my own children did not have. They have no desire to visit their grandmothers, while I still visit mine at 97 years of age.

    And no, I'm not talking about being their perpetual babysitter and a slave at their beck and call. I have my own life; it's just that I'm making them a much bigger part of my life than the previous generation did with my children. Their loss, I'm afraid, which they now quite painfully realize.

    Sorry this is so far off topic, but I get what you are saying, Red.

  • redheadeddaughter

    Mrs. Pete: You surprise me. Do you not feel that children should look after their parents as they age? Of course the parents carry the primary responsibility for their own children, but Oh! the benefits of something more. And it is a choice. That's my point. A choice the OP is making and I love it. It should be encouraged don't you think?

    As for selfish pursuits, we all have them. And boy is it sometimes easier to love our friends and colleagues more than our extended families... no family is perfect. But there has been a gradual acceptance of making all aging decisions around these individual pursuits and goals. I'm advocating balance, and investment in things unseen and less tangible. Surely you have spent quite a bit of time investing in young people in this way if you are a teacher. Was it worth the choice and sacrifice? I'd like to see all adult family members do the same thing... but you are right. It is always a choice.

    This post was edited by redheadeddaughter on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 13:53

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    "I'm thinking of situations where the energy and money is clearly spent on themselves, and not on their extended family, as a clear attempt to evade the work."

    If someone chooses to have a large family, they should make that decision based on if they personally have the time and financial means to rear and support that family without any extended family chipping in. It's selfish to feel entitled to the help of your extended family for your benefit. They've done their time in the trenches, and if they choose to not change grandchildren's poopy diapers or give a child another electronic gadget, it's their right to do so.

    You wanted the big family. You got it. YOU deal with it. On your own. I'm not babysitting. And I'm not feeding 40 people just so I can brag about "hosting" a family event. We can all go to a buffet restaurant and they can pay for their own. If you can't manage without help, well that should have been considered way before now. Using the excuse of "family" to impinge on someone else doesn't cut it. If you wouldn't treat a stranger that way, why would you be so rude to a family member?

  • bird_lover6

    Oh, some kids get plenty of expensive presents. Fewer expensive presents and more quality time would have been much preferred by my children, however. My kids would have preferred baking cookies, reading a book, going to the movies, the park, shopping, eating out together, giggling in bed together on a sleepover with grandma, or anything that indicated their grandparents wanted to be with them. :(

  • redheadeddaughter

    hollysprings: Perhaps you are the aging golfer to whom I refer? :) Just kidding.

    You sound like a terrible grandparent however talented you are in your own field. (I'm sure you aren't as awful as you make it sound though, in trying to make your point :)) My parents (and IL's) have never changed a poopy diaper, and I could do without any electronic gadgets. We've managed all on our own, in case you wished to imply otherwise, without any financial help. It would be selfish to feel entitled to that! In fact it's the aging parents who usually need the most help in that regard, unless they have planned very well. The gifts I'm speaking of require so much more sacrifice. Which you are clearly not willing to give if it requires that you get a little poop on your hands and a mess on your floor from dinner. Which I am excited to experience in the future, thank you very much. So don't worry about it. :) Lot's of people think just like you. I've been to plenty of buffets and thought no less of anyone, nothing wrong with that. I'm just a little different and boy do I get excited when I see someone else making that same choice. It's a messy one, that's for sure!

    This post was edited by redheadeddaughter on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 14:16

  • Oaktown

    Wow, a lot of posts overnight. To Bacene, I hope you will come back with more readable plan so that you can get specific feedback on your design -- I couldn't make out the different rooms.

    The general discussion is interesting, and everyone has a different situation. My folks live with us the better part of the year, and we would welcome my father-in-law and other family members if it made sense for them to move in (assuming they wanted to!). I have a friend whose mother charges her for occasional babysitting, and that works fine for them, and they are a very close family. I also have a very good friend whose family gets along better when they don't get together. It sounded like Bacene wants to continue to be the host for family gatherings, that's great and hopefully all of these views will be useful to help her figure out the best way to do that.

  • lazy_gardens

    My parents' solution to the family hordes was easy: They set up their popup tent camper and left the MBR to the tiny kids. Older kids slept in a tent (this being Phoenix, it's not a problem), and adults crashed on the floor in the bedrooms.

    By coincidence, the current house could easily accommodate a live-in attendant and give them a private suite. Right now it's got a roommate in it who's paying us to be a house sitter.

    By design the "dream house" we hope to build can be closed off upstairs if/when stairs become a burden (and the wiring for a stair lift will be build in) and the laundry can be moved to the lower level because we'll have the fittings stubbed out. Again, accommodations for live-in care are there.

    "Dream house" will be about 90% of the way to accessible: curbless showers, grab bars, wide doors, turning space, good lighting and no thresholds.

    After wrestling through a broken leg and a knee replacement, the SO got religion about accessibility.

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    Some random comments as I catch up on this thread:

    lavender-lass, your toilet comment reminded me of the golden girls...they were fixing their bath and the plumber left the toilet in the living room...Sophia walks in, sees it and says, "The toilet in front of the TV! Every old woman's dream come true!"

    Accessibility isn't just for the infirmed.

    We put a ramp in on our house and we find it very useful, not only for the more infirmed visitors we have who really appreciate it (bad hips, knees, etc.) but also for ourselves like when we're moving furniture and such.

    We put grab bars in the tub area in Mom's FL house and when I visited, I used them too....great for hanging a wash cloth, holding on to when washing your feet, etc.

    I just love our door levers vs. knobs...when we come in with groceries or whatever, it's so wonderful to open a door with an elbow.

    I agree, when we visit others, even if they have a guest room, we stay at a place. We are so much more comfortable as I'm a very fussy sleeper.

    debrak, my DH is with your DH...if he's not working outside, he's not happy...and he is over 70....he mows, rakes, splits wood, chain saws, etc. etc.

  • mrspete

    Red, I can be a surprising person, but I'm extremely practical and not one bit naive. You've liked some of my practical ideas in terms of house plans.

    Yes, I think that ideally children would take care of their parents as they age, but I'm also realistic enough to know that while this is a best-case scenario, it isn't always possible -- or even the best option for individual families. To give an example, if my father were still living, I would not take him in during his old age, nor would I allow him unfettered access to my children. He has too many addiction problems, and I remember clearly the day I realized (around 9 or 10) that the drinking-and-driving thing that was BAD was the very reason my dad sometimes had to try several times to hit the keyhole with his keys. Similarly, my mom (who is still living) has some hoarding tendencies and serious problems with money running through her fingers. I will make sure she's not hungry, etc., but I have to draw some boundaries for my own mental health (and that of my children). Call this selfish, if you like. I call it practical. Perhaps you grew up with a white picket fence and can't relate to this, but we can't solve everyone's problems -- I know I've done my best. I've been hurt enough by these situations, and it's caused stress in my marriage and for me personally.

    As a teacher, I see families who are wonderful for the children involved, and I see families who are absolutely horrible to their children and actually cause their children's problems. The "investment" is an emotionally-laden word, but in reality not all families buy into that concept in the same way.

    No, I do not agree that decisions dealing with aging parents are made concerning individual pursuits and interests. I see differences in society's attitudes towards family in general, more women in the work force, economic needs, and changes in medical care -- but I don't think people are saying, "I don't want to take care of Grandma because she'd keep me from playing tennis every afternoon." Families who take in elderly relatives have more resources than ever for their care (for example, Meals on Wheels was wonderful for my grandmother).

    I do agree with you that BALANCE is the goal. Grandparents should be able to spend time on their own pursuits -- travel, hobbies, etc. -- and also have time for their grandchildren. However, I think your version is overly romanticized and isn't possible for everyone.

    Regardless, none of it has to do with building an oversized house. In fact, I think it could easily be an inverse tangent; if you spend too much time/money on the house, you'll have less available for the family, and I don't think anyone should go into big-time debt to buy an oversized house. I commented earlier that I just lost my beloved grandmother. Over the years, she lived in a variety of houses, and my memories of her have nothing to do with the size of the space or the amenities.

    LazyGardens, We plan to buy a teardrop camper once we retire, and I had considered that it could function as a small guest room -- especially for grandchildren, who would consider it quite an adventure to sleep out in the backyard.

    And, yes, we're looking at the same concept for our retirement house: We're planning an upstairs that would be good for a family member (or a paid caregiver) to live in once I'm too old to take care of myself. I know that my grandmother wanted to stay in her own house, and having part-time help (with vaccuming, cleaning the bathroom, laundry, and grocery-store trips) made it possible for her to remain independent for a very long time. The reality is that I'll be taking care of my husband, who is both older than me and is in worse health, but I'll be on my own. I'm also investing in long-term care that'll allow me to stay in my own home. I want to be prepared to be able to stay in my house.

  • lavender_lass

    Wow! Okay, I sense some other issues going on here...

    Redhead- I'm sensing this might be your in-laws and I am so sorry they don't want to be more involved with your children (if this is the case). That's so difficult! You want your children to learn that family is about more than buying's about spending time and learning things that you might not learn, without them.

    I learned so much from all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...I wish I had seen them more. We lived in Washington state, but my mom was from Illinois and my dad was from South Carolina. Flying was just too expensive and driving took a week, so we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked, but I value all that I learned from everyone.

    It would be difficult to have family in the area, who doesn't want to be more involved. Then, there's the other case, where family is nearby and not wanted around (I have experience with that, too) and you wish you could be more involved. That's finally changed (divorce, unfortunately) but every situation is different.

    However, for many people, they don't have the money to build a big home and are often torn about selling the family home and downsizing to something easier to maintain. So many times, I've seen the 'kids' wish the parents wouldn't sell, but they don't want the house, either. They have their homes (often too small to host everyone) and don't want the older home, the added work and maintenance and sometimes, the neighborhood. Then I have to ask them...why would your parents?

    You're right...we are stuck in the middle. So is my mom's generation. Our parents are living longer (thankfully) but that often means creating a living space that is safe, inviting, and keeps them independent for as long as possible. Even if they're wealthy and have time to play golf...they may not want to spend time with small children. Others might love it, but can't do it anymore. And others try and should not...putting too much strain on themselves.

    It's like anything else. Every person has to decide what's right for them and their situation. The OP wants a large house and seems to have planned for it, so I wish them great happiness, in it. Others might not be able to do the same thing...or might not want to. All you can control is what you choose to do.

    So, I think you've come up with the perfect solution! You are creating the home you want, to encourage the family interaction you'd like to have...for yourself and your children. I applaud you for this and I think that's exactly the right thing to do! We all want a home that is more than a house...and to create happy memories that will last for a lifetime :)

  • Jack Kennedy

    one trick that was extremely helpful in designing an aging in place home....... rent or buy a wheel chair. Use it in your current home. Try to do your daily tasks in the wheelchair, everything that is a struggle will become very apparent. Your depth of reach becomes your biggest enemy. Faucets to the sides of sinks, because you cant reach the back of the sink from a wheelchair. Electrical outlets throughout the house at 36" in height, rather than close to the floor.........

  • lafdr

    Have as big a house as you want, it is for you afterall!

    My comments about universal access: given a large lot and large square footage to play with, I would skip the basement and elevator. And make all storage and living on one floor with NO steps or big transitions in flooring. Including the garage and porches as much as allowed by code. Picture getting around by scooter or with a walker to every corner of the house including storage areas.

    Add a large storage room off the garage, or perhaps an extra garage bay for future resale value. It can be closed off from the rest of the garage to keep it cleaner. Anything you would want to store in a basement is a huge hassle to move up or downstairs, even via elevator. Elevators are very expensive and and child guests may just wear them out!

    And add closets. Big walk in closets in as many places you can fit them in. Put storage items near where you would use them.Even hidden closets if that appeals to you! (My new to me house has a huge walk in closet near the laundry room, and another generous walkin in a hall. It is awesome to have such extra storage for linens and my husband's camping/climbing gear. There are 2 small closets we have not used at all yet. There is a full sized sliding door closet at the front door. And another linen closet near the kids rooms. Plus extra builtin cabinets in the bathroom that are the size of my old linen cabinet. These closets are much better and more convenient than I expected. And I have never seen another house with as many, in any price range. I am so lucky the previous owner thought to put them in. This house has no basement and no steps even from the garage or at any doors).

    Be aware of the "inner" areas of your home that will be far from windows. Be sure to plan skylights or another way to get light in. I would prefer every room of my house have direct natural light, so I would plan more of a skinny rectangle, L, or even U shaped house rather than a house so thick in the middle.

    Have fun!

  • larecoltante Z6b NoVa

    Great points of view in this post--I thought about them all day.

    Does anyone have a good reference for how long the aging in place period typically lasts? Statistics can often help us see beyond our own experiences, which are what drive many of these decisions.

    In my own extended family, our aging family members seem to fall in three groups: those who were in good, active health and who fell ill and passed away quickly and for whom a house for aging in place didn't end up applying, those who fought intermittent health battles (i.e., chemo) and who benefitted from moderate universal design, and those for whom no house alterations would have made the house safe (dementia). My father struggled with multiple rounds of chemo and my parents' single level home benefitted him during those times and he didn't seem to mind managing the large size of it. My active, healthy mother is still in the home and likes having the space for family to visit and enjoys her separate, dedicated areas. Having someone help her clean the house and do yard work costs less than the real estate commission would if she were to sell and move into some place more "sensible" as many of her friends have suggested. Only one family member was in a wheel chair and he had dementia and wasn't safe at home long before he needed the wheelchair. Is our family typical? I have no idea.

    My husband and I have no way of knowing which, if any, of these patterns we will experience and I don't discount others' experiences. Some actuarial tables could help guide a discussion, though.

    This post was edited by larecoltante on Fri, Oct 4, 13 at 21:39

  • lafdr

    For everyone jumping on the proposed size of 5000 sf being too big etc etc, I do not recall the original poster mentioning the size house she is coming from.

    Would it change your perspective if she currently lives in a 14,000 sf? Or even 32,000 sf mansion?

    Of course no one "needs" a 5000 sf house. But it may even seem small depending on the previous place.

    My parents recently downsized from 3200 sf with a single step down in 2 areas that my dad did trip and break a shoulder on a few years back, to a 2400 sf smaller newer home with zero steps and a smaller more manageable yard. The move and going through 40 years of accumulation and figuring out what to get rid of and get the old place ready for sale has been extremely stressful and has taken about a full year. But I know this new place is easier to maintain and will allow them to live at home longer than the old place would have allowed. Just the loss of that one step makes me feel they are much safer in the new place.

  • mrspete

    larecoltante, Your question has no real answer. In truth, we are all "aging in place" right this minute.

    I think you mean to ask, When does a person begin to NEED these special accomodations to avoid being forced to leave his or her home permanently? Again, no answer exists. A person who has a stroke at an early age (and although it's unusual, I know someone who had a stroke before 40) or a person who suffers brain damage after a car accident might NEED some "special helps" from a young age. My grandmother, on the other hand, lived alone 'til age 98 and had relatively few "special helps".

    I think the best answer is that many of these things we consider details for "aging in place" are useful to us at any age, and it just makes sense to build them in regardless of our stage in life. That, of course, begs the question, Why don't all builders just start doing these things? That's a three-fold answer: These things tend to cost money (some a little, some a lot), they tend to be a little more trouble, and the general public isn't asking for these things. So builders aren't going to provide them automatically.

  • debrak2008

    My mother lives in a community with the slogan "aging in place". It has independent housing for those 55 and older. Then progresses to varies building that can accommidate different needs all the way to skilled nursing care.

    So the idea is to move there when you are well and not needing any assistance, once you move there you never really have to leave. You may need to move into a different building but you stay in the complex.

    I will say again that many residents and their children appear in denial of their actual needs. Many who move into the independent building actually need some assitance, Those who sign up for some assistance really need a high level of assistance or memory care. I will say that some of the younger people who move in seem to be more realistic.

  • larecoltante Z6b NoVa

    Hi MrsPete, thanks for your thoughts. Sorry I'm late to respond.

    Yes, aging in place does begin "now" and we can't predict how long it will last in our own lives, but that's not really what I'm wondering. I'm wondering if there is data similar to what financial analysts use to help guide people on their savings vehicles. It would be interesting to know what percentage of people 50 - 55 have difficulty navigating various, specific characteristics in homes, percentage of 55 - 60, 60 - 65 and so on. If the original poster could access a table like that, she and her husband could decide what "balance" is right for them.

    Bacene, thank you for your post. It obviously has given many of us much to think about. I hope you build a home that has many beautiful aspects that you can enjoy with your husband and children. The home I now live in was built by a couple in their 80s and I'm so glad they did!

  • mommyto4boys

    wow....a lot of reading for the mind and soul during insomnia. So many ideas and so many things to think of.....

    This post just reiterates more that we are all products of our "families" and our experiences. The bad comes with the good and we grow and we hope to make the best of it and for some....I suppose the main goal is to not repeat some things that have damaged us the most.

    Brings us to the OP and the reason for custom homes. We all have a dream of the way we want to live and how we want our dream home to be a part of that life. I understand that most downsize to below a 2000 sq ft ranch. That doesn't mean it has to be done that way.

    I'm not trying to sound ridiculous or anything, but is it more a modern thing for people to down size or is it regional? It seems I know very few who have done this. My Grandparents just closed off their cellar and upstairs and lived in the main-level. They made adjustments when needed to the bathroom. I suppose it must be more modern as farmers used to stay in there homes and their family would move in and care for them. Nowadays I know a lot of farmers who give the "home place" to their youngest and then build a new "retirement" place for themselves. Just wondering?!?!

    Anyway....I'm from rural, farm country and where most have large families and super extended families. Most of my friends and family were raised in ranch homes or simple 2 story homes. Average sq ft being 1800-2100, often with a semi-finished rec room in the basement. The trend with my parents, their friends and our family is that they usually stay in the home until they pass away or a few go into a nursing home. I can honestly say that all 10 Aunts/Uncles and many family friends have added onto their homes in their 50's or early 60's. Actually 1 moved instead:). They all wanted a larger "gathering" room and built on for that reason. Many (prior to building on) used the lower-level rec room for this and then just for reason of stairs, location to kitchen and bathrooms, aesthetic, etc had added on to accommodate. So, they were all adding onto their homes, when I suppose many would think they were getting closer to downsizing. They all now approaching mid 70's and some into their 80's and are still in their added on homes. We have just found over the years that when a hall or other place is rented out for a holiday, etc....our family loses it's closeness. All the cousins arrive, eat and leave. We have found it more inviting, relaxing, etc to have it in the home where we can hang, relax and gather for hours. So, if you don't want people for hours, rent a place with tables and folded chairs or go to a restaurant :-)

    My parents actually were the ones who built a new place 2 years ago. They had owned acreage/wooded for years. They originally built a cabin on it and found themselves spending so much time there, they decided to build. Oh, we were so against the idea, everyone was! Too far out, too far from hospitals, too much land, too much too much. My dad said everyone thinks we are crazy, but it is what WE WANT, do you think we really haven't thought about all these things.....we will sell and move again if and when it becomes too much. So, they did what they wanted and they are thrilled. It is a smallish ranch with an open floor plan and a guest bedroom for occasional grand kids sleep overs. However, they have a large family room that is very cozy most of the time. They have the furniture placed in a groupings with large walk-ways all around. For Christmas it takes 2 people to move their one couch to open the room up and make room for all. And there solution to host really large parties was a "finished garage." They finished the walls with drywall and had breadboard added all around below the chair rail. They added cabinets and a counter top with electrical (crockpots etc) and a refrigerator. They have ceiling fans, highly insulated, and a nice epoxy (???) floor. They have a half bath directly inside the house from the garage. It is party ready just by backing the cars out. Of course they have an out building for all the junk that most people would have in their garage. What they didn't know is that it is the younger grandchildrens favorite place. It works out lovey when the young ones are out there....we pull out some old cars and trucks and they go crazy and then the adults can converse and hear each other.

    So, just to mention a few ways that many others have actually added to their homes in order to manage growing families. Personally, in our new build....we added on a huge dining room with surrounding wrap around covered porch and hope to be able to entertain large numbers in this space for many years.

    OP...I do wish you the best with your new home and your family is lucky to have you and a wonderful place to spend with you!

  • lavender_lass

    Mommyto4boys- I want to come to the party! That garage sounds amazing...what a great idea.

    I agree, about the farm area. Most people out here stay in the house or give it to one of the kids and move into another (sometimes smaller) home, on the same acreage. They're still close to family, but no stairs. That seems to be the key, as you said, all main living areas on one level :)

  • mrspete

    Mommyto4Boys, We've done the gathering-in-the-garage thing too! It's a practical option when you only need the space occasionally.

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