It’s one of those things you don’t realize you need until you encounter it. For me, it was when my father got into a car accident on May 11th last year. He suffered an aneurysm and since then his quality of life has gone down the drain. He went from owning his own home, driving around town, to needing 24 hour nursing care.
My generation, we don’t think about these things. I’m not sure why – is it because of all the other things we need to think about? The environment, terrorists, our own retirement (if that’s even possible), cyber security, etc. But taking care of our parents wasn’t something I ever thought about until the reality smacked me in the face.
When I decided I wanted to start property of the week, I had one goal in mind. To share a story. How can I marry my love of writing and story telling with selling homes? Simple: By telling a story of the home. Like a photograph speaks a thousand words, a home speaks a thousand stories.
It was a lightbulb that went off and I instantly jumped on it, letting other agents with our company know I wanted to do this. The first person to reach out to me was a fellow real estate agent in Chandler. She explained a home they had listed was a ‘multi generational home’. I had no idea what she was talking about but being fresh behind the ears, that wasn’t surprising. She explained how this was different from a guest house or even a mother-in-law suite. She described it as an ‘apartment within a home’. I was intrigued and needed to see it for myself.
I drove down to Chandler two days later to meet with fellow colleagues, Jane and Al Anderson, and their clients. (For privacy purpose, their full names are being omitted from this blog) From the start, I knew I was onto something and couldn’t think of a better first property of the week. Their clients had their hands in the design of the home from bottom to top. Everything from the floor plan, to the thickness and insulation of the walls. It wasn’t until I had a tour that I truly understood what a ‘multi-generational home’ was.
From a complete separate entry to sound proof walls, Ethel’s place truly is her own little home within her family’s home. And the family couldn’t be happier.
“The peace of mind is priceless,” John says.
John and Cheryl knocked on Ethel’s door, respecting her privacy and it was as if I were stepping into a condominium that had nothing to do with the home itself. Sure, it was attached. Yes, the walls were the same color and the same respect to detail was brought into Ethel’s home inside a home. But, it was her own. And when I say attention to detail, every detail was not only considered, but carefully evaluated and executed. From wider doors, to a shower made wide enough to be converted into a walk-in if need be, pantry, and walk-in closet. (Remember the sound proof walls I mentioned?)
While yes, your son in college or sister visiting from New York could utilize this area as guest quarters, it’s really been made with our elderly in mind. As someone who is posting this blog 2 weeks later than promised because I’ve been consumed with finding my own aging father the right care and home, this really hits home in more ways than one – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Studies show that our aging parents age better, live longer, and have healthier lives when living in close proximity with their family. But as anyone would mention, it can also become difficult to have our family living on top of us. John and Cheryl kept this in mind. Not only for themselves, but for their mom/mother-in-law.
They enjoy family meals together by the kitchen and at the end of the meal, Mama Ethel says, “Thank you for the meal, I’m going home now,” and walks the fifteen feet to her home inside a home. When Ethel gives me a tour of her home, she’s proud of it as if it’s her own. She even sheds a tear when she shows me an older black and white picture of her son, a casualty of war many years ago. I tear up with her as well. The picture reminds me of a younger photo of my father when he served. I rub her back and we share a moment. At no point do I feel like I’m in anyone elses home besides hers.
Although Cheryl and John built the home 16 years ago, they built it not realizing how much of a need this would become for my generation. Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millenials, who are not only struggling to figure out our own retirement and hope against all hope we can live a healthy and long enough life to be able to save up some amount to have a semblance of decorum of retirement, many people of my generation are experiencing things that I am as well… caring for parents before we knew it would be time.
I can’t help but see Cheryl and John with Ethel and think of the bittersweet need of caring for our parents. And I certainly can’t help but bow down in respect for their progressive thinking. It gives me a lot of ‘what if’s’ in my own life – what if I had thought of this? And although I walked away with the bittersweet feeling of knowing that it may be too late for my father and I have to be able to do this, it’s not too late for my own mother-in-law. I called my husband on the way home and told him about what Cheryl and John have done. I admit, I was a bit skeptical before taking a look at a multi-generational home. But there’s a warm feeling you can’t help deny feeling by having family close by. Thank you Cheryl and John, I’ve walked away with new-found goals.
I know when the time comes and we’re ready for our next home, we’ll definitely be looking at multi-generational homes. But in the meantime, I can’t recommend it enough for the next person. When I asked Cheryl and John if they had any regrets about selling and moving onto the next step in their lives, the answer came quick and simple.
“We will miss it, but we have our bucket list.”
And may they check off everything off that bucket list.
Some of Cheryl’s and John’s checklist items for a multi-generational home:
- Wide doors
- Shower Area: behind the walls support for hand rails and wide enough to convert into a walk-in shower if needed
- Vanity: Large enough for their current needs
- Kitchen: Zoning considered; Dishwasher, refrigerator (make it standard size since they’re accustomed to this), Microwave, toaster oven, stove if zoning allows
- Living Space: Just like you need outside your own bedroom, so do they. (Even include a small garden, sitting area if possible)
- Storage area: Pantry and Walk-In
If you’d like to preview this home in person or to have your property and/or listing considered for property of the week, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org