While sharing ice cream and conversation with my son yesterday, he was telling me about an interesting trend in the real estate market. He and his wife have been thinking of selling their home and buying another with more room for their family. He said that some of the newer houses they had looked at came with a ground floor "Mother-In-Law" apartment, specifically designed for use by aging parents who, like many elderly, have trouble negotiating the stairs in a traditional second floor or basement apartment.
We hear quite often about the trend of adult children moving in with their parents during a financial crisis such as job loss or the inability of college graduates to secure employment in their chosen field. But I have to admit I had not thought about the reverse situation - of aging parents living with their adult children. I had forgotten about occurrences within my own family.
Years ago it was unthinkable for a family to shuttle Mom or Dad off to a home for the aged. My Great-Grandfather, after the death of his wife, spent half the year with my Grandfather's family and the other half with his daughter's family. One of my Dad's brothers stayed on the farm and cared for his widowed mother until her death. He was over 50 years old before he married and left the farm. He did this by choice, out of love for his mother and a sense of family duty.
My other Grandmother lived for a time in an apartment in my parent's home. I remember how I loved to be able to see her whenever I wanted and to be able to bring my young children to to spend time with her. My brother, who was a young boy at the time, recalls hours spent with our Grandmother, many of them over games of checkers. Some of his best memories are of time with Grandma.
I understand the need for nursing homes. Both of my parents lived in a nursing home in their last years due to medical issues that could not be taken care of in a home environment. But for those older folks who are still able to care for themselves, this ground floor apartment trend is a good one, I think. It offers privacy for both generations. And it offers access to family and the opportunity to spend precious time with grandchildren - something that is becoming a rare thing in our too busy world. It is reminiscent of the old values, where family cared for family and that is a good thing. And I am all for reviving some of the old values and traditions.
That being said, do not panic, my children. I have no intention of moving in with any of you - yet.