Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Episode 26: Learn How you can Create a Successful Multi-Generational Living Arrangement for you and your Family

September 26, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS Season 3 Episode 26
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Episode 26: Learn How you can Create a Successful Multi-Generational Living Arrangement for you and your Family
Show Notes Transcript

Seniors are choosing to live in a multi-generational home. Also, the number of Americans living in a multi-generational household ( 3 or more generations) has nearly quadrupled in the past decade. I think we can all agree first and foremost privacy is key to a successful living arrangement. Aside from privacy, there is a laundry list of must-haves to ensure safety and comfort. Here is a list of my top remodeling recommendations for a multi-generational home:

Please read the full article: https://homedesignsforlife.com/2022/02/12/seniors-living-in-a-multi-generational-home/

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[00:00:00] Janet: Good evening everyone. I'm so happy to be with you today, and today's podcast is going to be on the multi-generational living arrangement. So I've decided to talk about this because number one, it's a topic that is very close to my heart. I have a lot of personal experience with. So I personally grew up in a multi-generational living arrangement where I lived with my.

[00:00:39] Janet: And my sister and then my grandmother she had immigrated from Cuba and she was already in her seventies and she was legally blind. And so my father did not want her to live alone, and really, she couldn't live alone at that point. She didn't speak the language. And with her [00:01:00] condition being legally blind, she couldn't safely live alone.

[00:01:03] Janet: So she came to live with us and it wasn't just my grandmother who came to live with us, but my uncle which was probably in his early thirties at the time, and also had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He also came to live with us. So for. Reasons pertaining to his mental health. He also could not live by himself, and him and my grandmother were very codependent, so it, it really wasn't feasible to separate them.

[00:01:40] Janet: So we lived in a pretty small house. I would say it was probably no more than, 1800 square feet, three bedrooms, only one bathroom. The house was built in 1934. This was in [00:02:00] Miami, Florida. So you can imagine this was very old home. And as some people know out there, older homes, usually they only had one bathroom.

[00:02:11] Janet: So we all shared a bathroom. So it was four adults sharing a bathroom. And my sister and I. So it was pretty stressful and complicated at times, especially for my mother. My mother was the one that endured most of the stress from having my grandmother and my uncle living in the house, and I know that she was very frustrated with that situation.

[00:02:40] Janet: And so that's why I wanted to talk about the multi-generational living arrangement because it's something that a lot of people are experiencing and it's becoming more and more commonplace. and the reasons that may have [00:03:00] nothing to do with economics like they did in my family situation. It may be totally due to different reasons.

[00:03:08] Janet: So I wanted to start the podcast with just talking about some statistics and reasons why the multi-generational living arrangement is becoming more common in the United States. So seniors are choosing to live in a multi-generational home. Also, the number of Americans living in a multi-generational household, which.

[00:03:35] Janet: Would include three or more generations has nearly quadrupled in the past decade. The Generations United Organization estimates that 66.7 million adults, ages 18 and over live in a multi-generational family. That is more than one in [00:04:00] four Americans. That statistic alone is just staggering. So more than half of these people started living together because of the Covid-19 pandemic and state that they will continue to do so in the long.

[00:04:18] Janet: So seniors are benefiting more than ever from this living arrangement. Independent and assisted living facilities are financially out of reach for most older adults. Moreover, lockdowns during the pandemic also shed light on how quality of life. And freedom to socialize with other residents and family members can be greatly restricted when there is a new outbreak.

[00:04:49] Janet: I saw this happen many times working in home health. I, at least four times during the pandemic where I would be visiting either independent living facilities or assisted [00:05:00] living facilities or facilities that had. Both even a memory care unit, and they would suddenly restrict visitors from coming to see their family members, and that meant that they couldn't even drop off groceries, could not go to their apartment to leave their groceries.

[00:05:19] Janet: Or anything of the sort. So it is pretty crazy. And if you lived in the assisted living part, then there were even more restrictions that were placed on those residents. And it's not only restrictions concerning the residents seeing their family members, but they cannot visit with other residents either.

[00:05:44] Janet: because obviously if they're together, then they're gonna be spreading the virus. So these are all things that really came into light. Once the pandemic hit and we saw the ugly truth about living in a [00:06:00] assisted living or independent living building. So now factors contributing to this trend include number one, economic climate.

[00:06:11] Janet: So that's about 66% of people choosing to live in this arrangement. Do so for this reason. Number two, need for elder care. That's about 34%. Number three, need for childcare or education needs where the younger people in the family either need the older person to take care of their children, or perhaps they're in school and so they need childcare for that reason.

[00:06:40] Janet: Or perhaps they're the ones that need it for economic relief. So that's about 34% job loss or change in job status or under employment. That's 30%. Healthcare costs of one or more family members, [00:07:00] 25%. And number six, cultural and family expectations. That's about 23%. So Back in the day, cultural and family expectations was the main reason why people lived in a multi-family living arrangement.

[00:07:18] Janet: And my family certainly fell into that group. It was expected that my grandmother would have someone take care of her and because my uncle had a mental health disorder, Then he obviously fell into that category where you know he needed caregivers. So I want to specifically talk about how we can make the multi-generational living arrangement more successful by.

[00:07:55] Janet: Creating a home design that is going to be conducive [00:08:00] to people of three or more generations living together. So specifically, Home design to accommodate seniors, and I think we can all agree that first and foremost, privacy is key to a successful living arrangement. So aside from privacy, there is also a laundry list of must haves to ensure safety and comfort.

[00:08:31] Janet: So here is a list of the top remodeling recommendations. Number one, you want a first floor master bedroom. So if your home doesn't already have a master bedroom, but let's say perhaps it has. A bedroom or an office that can be converted or perhaps you have a living room that is quite large that you can take from that [00:09:00] space and turn it into a bedroom.

[00:09:03] Janet: Or perhaps you have two living rooms. So I lived in a house this was my house in Gainesville, Florida where we actually. Two living rooms that were adjacent to each other. They were separated by a wall. So that would be the perfect situation where you can turn one of those living rooms into a bedroom, or perhaps you have a separate dining room.

[00:09:26] Janet: Well, that dining room could also be turned into a bedroom. So we can be creative and we can make our space work for our current needs. So number two, having an accessible bathroom, a full bathroom on the first floor. So this is very, very important. So when I did home health for many years, this was o often the reason why people could not live on the first floor because they did not have a full bathroom.

[00:09:58] Janet: So in that case, what we [00:10:00] can do is perhaps we can take space. An adjacent closet and then make the bathroom bigger and create a shower so that all of your hygiene and toileting needs can be addressed on the first floor. So that is crucial. Number three, you wanna have a safe entry and exit from the home to an outdoor.

[00:10:28] Janet: So you need to be able to enter your home and exit your home in a safe manner, and that means that that individual should be able to enter and exit the home without having to have assistance from someone else because, It's too dangerous to navigate the steps or the threshold. There's no existing ramp or [00:11:00] just a series of changes that need to be made to the home.

[00:11:03] Janet: So that really is a life and death issue. If there is a fire, you have to be able to get out of your house. Okay, so that is first and foremost. And so not only for emergency reasons. Just for quality of life, people need to be able to go outside. It's, it's such an important piece of having quality of life, especially as you get older.

[00:11:34] Janet: You wanna be able to spend time outside, just sit outside, get some sun. Perhaps the person really likes to garden. And so that's another activity that they can be engaging in or they can be socializing with their neighbors. So for many reasons, it is important for us to be able to access the outside of the home safely[00:12:00] now.

[00:12:00] Janet: So that goes to my next point, which is having at least one zero step entry into the home. So, for example, my home, I have. Three entrances to the home, and not one of them is a zero step entry. So that really bothers me. So I've been thinking about which entry am I going to modify to make it more accessible.

[00:12:30] Janet: So that is, Again, just paramount to being able to stay in your home for the long term because eventually something's gonna happen where either you can't navigate stairs or. Your endurance is affected, your balance is affected, and so maybe there are stairs into the home, but you have a walker, so you need to be able to [00:13:00] have steps that are wide enough to accommodate your walker.

[00:13:05] Janet: So we should definitely. Resolve that issue. If your home does not have at least one zero step entry and you wanna stay in your home to age in place, that is where I would spend my money first. So another thing is access to the kitchen. and the ability to participate in meal prep. So it is very important to have access to the kitchen.

[00:13:31] Janet: Obviously, we all need to eat to survive. Not only do we need to eat to survive, but it is one of the biggest pleasures. It is also an occupation. So for many people it is important to be able to engage. In that occupation and not just for women in my career, I've come across many families where the man is the one that was the cook in the family.

[00:13:58] Janet: So it is a very [00:14:00] important occupation. It brings a lot of joy. For myself personally, I love to cook, so it is a big part of who I am, a big part of my life. It's a big part of how I interact with my friends and my family. So having access to my kitchen and then having an accessible kitchen is very important to me.

[00:14:23] Janet: And there are many things that we can do to our kitchen to make it accessible. It is endless the amount of accessible designs that you can create in your cabinetry in your pantry. You can make. Spaces or surfaces that can go up and down. It's just amazing how accessible you can make your kitchen and safe and create a space where it is very easy to function in.

[00:14:54] Janet: And I'll just say a few things but for example, if you have a countertop that is [00:15:00] quartz, That quartz countertop is basically a butcher block, so you can cut on that countertop. It is also more hygienic. It doesn't have to be sealed or treated, so it's safer because you're not having to apply chemicals to the surface.

[00:15:19] Janet: It is naturally going to be a cleaner surface. So if we're thinking about Covid 19 or perhaps salmonella, which is a very common.  Condition that,  bacteria that happens. I personally was affected with salmonella many years ago, and so was my son when he was a baby. So I know how easy it is to contract salmonella, and it's not just from eating raw eggs or undercooked chicken.

[00:15:47] Janet: You can contract salmonella. It is on surfaces. You can place your phone. Let's say on a public counter, Let's say you're at a bar or at a restaurant. You place your phone on [00:16:00] that countertop, if there's salmonella on that countertop, and then you touch it and it comes in contact with your eyes or your mouth.

[00:16:09] Janet: That is how you can get salmonella into your system. So it is very easy and a very common condition that people contract and it's actually very hard to get rid of. So for many reasons, having a quartz countertop is a smart move. And that right there is an aging in place modification. So Also, I wanted to mention soundproofing rooms.

[00:16:39] Janet: So this is a great strategy when you have teenagers living in the house. So let's say they're talking on the phone or playing loud music. They wanna have their space, they wanna have their privacy. So you can soundproof that child's room. So there is [00:17:00] paint that is acoustic paint that will help soundproof the room.

[00:17:04] Janet: You can also soundproof the room by placing cork panels on the walls. You can use carpeting. To also help with soundproofing the space. So there are several things that we can do to make our space more enjoyable for everyone so that we can live together. But when we choose not to interact, people can do the things that they enjoy and use their space the way that they want to use it and be functional in their space.

[00:17:39] Janet: And. It's just as important for the senior to be able to do that as it is for younger people in the home. So perhaps we can also add an additional private entry for the older adult. So that is something that I think is important, that it will give [00:18:00] more independence to that older adult. For example, in my home, I have a walkout basement, and one of the reasons why I bought this home was because I thought, well, one day when my mother comes to live with me, She has her own private entrance to the basement, and there's also an additional driveway.

[00:18:22] Janet: So  she, she can leave, she can come and no one will know. She has her own space. If she wants to come into the main part of the house, she does not have to use the stairs to go upstairs. She can simply come out through the driveway and then come in through the front door. But there I have the additional issue that I just mentioned, that I do not have a zero step entry.

[00:18:51] Janet: So you see, that's why I am motivated to modify one of my entryway, which in my house I wanna [00:19:00] make it the entrance that I have to the backyard, which I have three steps going to that door. And so what I wanna do is create larger steps, wider steps. So that they're safer to navigate and they can accommodate a walker or someone using a cane.

[00:19:23] Janet: So those are the plans I have for the future. But every home is different. And really the possibilities are endless. We just have to be creative in thinking about how we wanna use our space and how we can make the best use of this space that we are in. Because frankly, the truth is that.

[00:19:47] Janet: Moving to, let's say another community or an independent living or assisted living facility, probably isn't gonna check all of the boxes either because less than [00:20:00] 5% of the dwellings in the United States. Are actually considered to be accessible. So almost any home that you move into or purchase, you're going to have to make some accommodation.

[00:20:13] Janet: So perhaps the best thing is just to stay in your current home and see the changes that you can make there and make it a forever home. So the point is that seniors can add a lot of value. In a multi-generational living arrangement. So for the reasons I just mentioned they can contribute with childcare they can contribute with their finances they can contribute with just the knowledge and the experience.

[00:20:44] Janet: That they bring from having lived so many more years. So it can be, it can really be beneficial for everyone in the family to have an older person living in their house. We get to learn from [00:21:00] them and, and we get to spend more time with them and, Just it adds to everyone's quality of life. In fact, it, it's has been proven.

[00:21:08] Janet: Research has proved that in communities where young people spend time with older people in the community, there is actually less crime. So, It's great for the young people to keep them out of trouble. And it's great for the older adults it gives them purpose. They get to share their experience, their love, their wisdom, and it brings quality of life.

[00:21:38] Janet: For many reasons, this is a great living arrangement. And so all we have to do is make changes to the home. To make it more conducive to it being a successful and manageable living arrangement. So, Thank you for spending time with me. I just wanna say once [00:22:00] again, as I've said in many of my podcasts, that if you want to hire someone to help you make modifications to your home, please hire an occupational therapist that specializes in home modifications.

[00:22:15] Janet: They are going to be the best person to help you make the right changes to your home. and make changes to your home that are going to benefit you for many years, not just. For a short period of time and remember these home modifications, they're gonna add value to your home. You're gonna be able to sell your home for more money.

[00:22:39] Janet: You just have to hire the bright professional to help you make these changes. So thank you for listening. If you have any suggestions for future topics or perhaps you would like to be interviewed on my show, please contact me. My email is [00:23:00] info@agingmatters.health I love to listen and be connected with my listeners.

[00:23:06] Janet: Please also follow us on Instagram. Our Instagram handle is hmota_livingwelldesigns and please check out what we are doing there. So thank you for being with me today. Good evening.