In the United States and Canada, nearly 50 million people act as unpaid caregivers for an older loved one, be it a friend or family member. Beyond that figure, many millions more Americans and Canadians live in senior living residences, ranging from independent living to golf communities, to Memory Care residences, and even assisted living facilities. And while many people would prefer to keep their loved one staying at home for as long as possible, sometimes that simply is not an option.
One company is trying to change all that. NewAvenueHomes, a six year-old software service company based in Emeryville, California, aims to offer seniors and their families the ability to find architects and designers to help them create multi-generational homes, specifically to help allow older people to live with their families for as long as possible.
Kevin Casey, the CEO and Founder of NewAvenueHomes, told RetirementHomes.com in a recent interview that their goal is to connect homeowners with prospective architects, designers and homebuilders, with the aim of providing custom renovations and additions with a senior in mind, while offering more collaboration and potentially lower prices. And while any homeowner can easily hire a designer, architect or builder for their home, Casey said the most important factor is having a designer or builder who thoroughly understands how a senior changes the physical dynamic of a family home beyond simply adding another person to the mix.
“Typically single-family homes are designed for the “nuclear” family in a suburban setting. However, as families change and grow, their home should change and grow with them,” Casey said. “Some examples of building designs for the increased use of multigenerational homes are modifications such as low countertops, zero threshold doorways and grab bars.”
According to Casey, one option for larger families (and larger houses) is to build an accessory structure, which would be physically separated from the main home, and would be similar to a bunky or small cottage. In that structure, other family members (usually the older person or couple) would be able to live with maximum independence and privacy as possible, while still being in close proximity to their loved ones in the event of emergency.
And while custom building an accessory structure to a main house could be cost prohibitive for many people in the short term, Casey told RetirementHomes.com that in the longer-term scenario, his calculations indicate that the immediate expenses could help save hundreds of thousands of dollars in lease fees for senior living homes as the alternative.
“Recently we conducted an analysis of the multigenerational living and we calculated that within five years there is an estimated $234,000 in savings by going the accessory dwelling route compared to nursing home costs,” he said.
For individuals who rent their homes, building an addition or separate structure is not a feasible option to help accommodate an older loved one, but perhaps as the senior population grows across the United States and Canada, more apartments will be better suited to this expanding demographic cohort.