Garden Mar 26 2013 (1)


Do you find gardening too much of a chore? Does cleaning up winter clutter hurt? You could move into a retirement home where you don’t have to do those things. Another possibility: live with your kids. Oooppps! How about co-housing, which brings you together with people who are adventurous but willing to share household tasks?

Garden Mar 26 2013 (28)

Or do you just love where you live? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has announced its CAPS program has now qualified 5000 members of the building and design professions. CAPS stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. Over the past ten years, in recognition of a survey conducted by AARP, which concluded that most people looking forward to retirement would prefer to stay in their own homes, NAHB has encouraged its members to look at that as a solid market opportunity.

The chair of the CAPS board, Joseph Irons, says: “We want to help consumers make their house their home for a lifetime, even when their needs and abilities change.” Their focus is on modifications to accommodate illness or age.

Let’s back up a bit. As I recall (and I have this documented somewhere), the survey AARP conducted that inspired CAPS interviewed people 45 to 50 years old. I can’t help but wonder if many of those respondents, still working, were dreaming of a future in which they would be tripping over rugs or unable to climb stairs. But let’s say they did have a glimmer of what is to come, perhaps watching their parents, probably then in the 65-75 age range. Those parents likely would have owned their homes for many years. It’s pretty hard to give that certainty up for the unknown. It was also hard for children to insist the old folks move, even if property taxes were on the rise and houses were selling for a lot more than what the folks paid for them.

What a bind! Costs for congregate living were escalating, some using the point system, so if you had to move in, and you couldn’t walk your dog, do laundry, or write checks, an assist would add a certain number of points/dollars added to your monthly bill of, say (conservatively) $2500. And living with a bunch of strangers was not appealing. Co-housing was an innovative alternative, but usually expensive.

Garden Mar 26 2013 (5)So is remodeling. But let’s go back to the idea of moving in with the kids. We insisted my mother move in with us, and we even bought a roomier house, with her financial help. She got $125,000 for her house, about the same amount she and Dad paid for it in cash just five years earlier when they downsized. She had decorated it her way for, I’m guessing, another $5,000-10,000. So, let’s assume the sale of her house put $100,000 in her bank account. For her two years with us she paid $600 a month for rent, which included the master bedroom, her own bathroom, a private porch, and the run of the place. (She would sit in the living room in the most proprietary location.) Plus we built a patio in the front, just because she and Dad always loved watching their neighbors walk by. Oh, yes, she had a dog.

In addition to the rent, Mom paid for the CAPS part of some remodeling, about $15,000, mostly her bathroom. Multiply $600 by 26 months that she lived. That would be $15,600. Of course there were other costs, such as moving and storing her furniture, some of which we integrated, so she would feel more at home. Still, in no way did the total amount add up to even half of $100,000. There was enough left for her to have in-home services (companions) 9-5, five days a week. She lived comfortably on her monthly income. And we didn’t have to drive somewhere to check on her.

Old ManDecisions about senior housing depend so much on health and personality. My mom, at 84, would have felt like we’d abandoned her in “an old folks home,” and there was the dog. When my brother and I briefly considered group living for her that was always the bête noir: you could have a pet only if you could take care of one and it didn’t become a “problem.” As it happened, her dog died first, and his ashes are buried by a tree he liked. Hers are, too.


NOTE: Someone considering having a parent move in definitely should consult a lawyer about Power of Attorney and the amounts allowable for rent and remodeling. For information on CAPS, go to


  • Outstanding design, this looks like the home of my drmeas for me to retire in, and many other Boomers that are down sizing. Or placed on my kids lot I can be part of the family and have some privacy when wanted. The future looks bright for this kind of building, out west we have had so much land with big houses and now we are re-thinking the subject for other reasons in deed.

Leave a Reply to Jaison Cancel reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>