Accessory apartments, also referred to as in-law apartments, are a great way to help aging parents transition to the next stage in their lives. Many younger couples with families are taking in their aging loved ones to help them with everyday living yet help them retain some of the independence they enjoyed previously.
According to US News and World Report, a report conducted by the University of Rhode Island revealed that one in three employees currently face elder care responsibilities, with the figure only expected to grow. In fact, 45 percent of workers expect to take on elder care within the next five years. This is the so-called sandwich generation – people in their 50s who are taking in their ailing parents to care for them AND their own children. Forty-three percent of those surveyed had child care responsibilities, with 12 percent taking care of both children and aging parents at the same time.
So, how can you create a space in your existing home that accommodates the privacy of your aging parents yet allows you to be close to them in case they need you? In-law apartments are nothing new. They’ve been around for decades as a way to blend two distinct aspects of family living. However, homeowners are getting more and more creative as to how they go about this, whether in an effort to accommodate strict zoning regulations in their town or to make it easier for the normal flow of the household.
The convenience of having an in-law apartment is a win/win for many families. The aging parents can provide child care, which helps the younger parents out immensely. The younger parents aren’t as stressed with having to visit their loved ones in a nursing home or at their own home far away. In turn, the aging parents get an affordable (or free) place to stay where they don’t have to worry about lawn care, snow removal, and home maintenance. Plus, the two areas are separated either by a transitional room or simply a door. In some instances, the in-law apartment is a separate entity from the house and the two must be accessed via the outdoors.
Aging parents get their own space with bedroom, living area, bathroom and kitchen so they can live largely independently from the rest of the household. A transition space between the two areas can be enhanced to make going back-and-forth easy. These transitional spaces can include a mudroom, laundry room, play room, pantry or breezeway.
In addition to the convenience afforded the entire family, accessory apartments can boost the value of your home. According to a Zillow as reported in The Wall Street Journal, homes with in-law units, called accessory-dwelling units (ADUs), were priced 60 percent higher than houses without them. In the past, it wasn’t as easy to get permission to build an accessory apartment due to local regulations that made them illegal, or perhaps because they were too complex to build for a particular area. Those regulations have eased up a lot thanks to the efforts of lobbying groups; today, in-law units with full permits can enjoy some of the highest property values around.
The choice to add an accessory apartment to your home is a personal one. But the benefits of having your aging parents close by so you can assist them AND raise your own children at the same time is a key factor.