Guest Post: A New Avenue for Baby Boomer Living

Guest post written by Andrew Statz of New Avenue Homes

What we saw long ago on All in the Family and Everyone Loves Raymond, we now see in real life. Grandparents living in the same households as their children and grandchildren. It has become common in primetime family comedies and is becoming more and more common in our daily lives and reality. Recently there has been a tremendous shift in the cultural attitudes toward the idea of multi-generational living, which is the idea of living with our children while they raise their own children all within the same household. There are many causes for this paradigm shift in our attitudes towards living with our extended families. One being the tremendous growth of the retired but active population within the U.S. and another being the cost of housing and difficult job market for recent college graduates.
Traditionally elder parents try to practice the “age in place” ideal of staying in their homes for as long as possible. Once they can no longer financially afford, or physically maintain their homes do they regrettably move. Depending on family dynamics and ailments we consider inviting our children to live with us in our own households assuming we have the space, or we consider a nursing home if medical attention/monitoring is consistently required. Based on a Forbes article and the work done by CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders) Project1 the issues affecting elders living by themselves are their ability to bath, cook, and manage their medications. They estimate that by managing these basic regiments, CAPABLE participants can “reduce their likelihood of admission into a nursing home by 40% over a year”. Furthermore there is the issue of senior loneliness, as they see their families living in separate households, and their shrinking social circles, and loss of their spouses.
Several companies are emerging that focus on improving your home for longer term living. One such firm is New Avenue Homes (NewAvenueHomes.com). This company focuses on the design and construction of accessory dwellings (also known as backyard cottages, in law units, or even granny shacks), on the same property as an existing single-family home. The additions are small houses that are separated from the main house with their own entrances and amenities such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These units typically measure from 300 square feet to no more than 700 square feet.Orinda Cottage
Recent research by New Avenue found that a large percentage of their baby boomer clientele construct an accessory dwelling for many uses. Prior to their own move to rightsizing their home by moving out of the main home and into the accessory dwelling, they use the accessory dwellings for rental income or general utility as a guesthouse. They have found that their clients have chosen to do this for a combination of reasons including maintaining independence in the future, and to be able to provide support for their children and grandchildren. When interviewing the baby boomers how their lifestyle has been impacted since moving into their accessory dwelling, both the residents in the accessory dwelling and the residents in the main home list a general improved quality of life and sense of increased happiness. They talk about the comfort of knowing their children and grandchildren are located in such a close proximity, but having their own domicile maintains a sense of independence, privacy, and not feeling like they are “intruding” into each other’s household space.
Another aspect of the choice to construct an accessory dwelling was the economics of it. Families are able to coordinate between generations what specific design options are appropriate for their aging parents, such as specialty baths and railings for support and easy entry/exit. Constructing a 650 square foot granny cottage in the San Francisco Bay Area (One of the most expensive places to build in the US) costs around $250,000. However when properly financed, annual costs (including property taxes, maintenance and mortgage costs) are less than $$1,500 per month. Compared with the national average of $2,969 per month 2 for an assisted-living facility, not to mention this does not include the entry fee ranging from $60,000 to $120,000. Furthermore the quality of housing provided in these assisted living facilities pale in comparison to a custom designed home in your own community.Orinda Living room
At the end of the day, when you look past the tangible and intangible benefits afforded by an accessory dwelling, the discussion turns to how multigenerational living has affected both the grandparent the parents and the grandchildren. The wisdom a grandchild can take away from spending more time with their grandparents, the sense of ease knowing your aging parent lives in such close proximity are all aspects of the multigenerational household. Multigenerational living appears to be catching on and in today’s economic and demographic environment, it is here to stay.susans-cottage-newavenuehomes

1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/09/13/how-can-we-keep-seniors-in-their-homes-as-long-as-possible/
2. http://www.caregiverlist.com/ShowAnswer.aspx?QuestionID=7newavenuehomes

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Guest Post: Effective Strategies to Promote Healthy Aging

Guest post written by Maya Pugh

 Pugh- healthy aging

A recent study showed that the last two decades has been a testament to people not only living longer but also staying healthier even in the latter years of their lives.

 

While this can be in part credited to medical advances, many also attribute this to many elderly embracing healthier choices to boost their chances of living longer and healthier lives.

 

Staying in the peak of health even way into your golden years is not a walk in the park. But then again, it’s not rocket science either. In essence, it’s all about striking the right balance between what you need to do and what you need to limit.

 

While there are a lot of factors you need to take into account to enjoy good health and long life, below are 3 of the most basic inclusions which should make it to your list of top priorities.

 

Exercising

 

To stay healthy even in your golden years, you need to complement your healthy diet with ‘effective’ exercise.

 

That means you need to incorporate a few high-intensity routines into your exercise regimen. Studies show that interval-type and high-intensity trainings can dramatically boost your ‘human growth production’, a hormone believed to be essential for optimum vigor, strength and health.

 

In addition, it would prove beneficial if you are in the know as to the ideal and safe exercises for senior citizens  so you can reap its full benefits.

 

Taking a low-sugar diet

 

While many are not aware of it, limiting sugar can help promote longevity.

 

Some agents found in fructose produce toxic ‘advanced glycation end products’, otherwise referred to as AGEs. This end product is known to contribute to the development of many chronic degenerative diseases common among the elderly.

 

Ideally, daily sugar intake should be limited to below 25 grams per day. However, if you already have an elevated sugar level, keeping it below 10 grams is advisable.

 

In addition, it would be beneficial to integrate omega-3 rich foods in your diet. Research indicates that those who have around 8 percent of omega-3 in their diets live longer than those who have less than 4 percent to none.

 

Creating a positive outlook

 

Optimal health is only attained once you are able to address all the necessary components, including your emotional state.

 

It is believed that your emotional well-being can be a contributing factor in many physical afflictions ranging from depression, arthritis, heart disease and even cancer.

 

Countless centenarians credit positive thinking and optimism to their longevity. In line with this, you can look into prayer, social support, and meditations to help you address whatever underlying emotional issues you might need help with.

 

In terms of socialization, consider staying in a nursing home so you are able to mingle and at the same time, get the professional help and supervision you deem fit.

 

While many associate aging with chronic illnesses and discomforts, you can actually do something to help ensure you do not suffer the same fate. Start with the above mentioned essentials and work your way from there so you can enjoy a fun, healthy and comfortable life even in your golden years.

 

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Guest Post: DIY- To Build Or Not To Build

This guest post is compliments of Andrew Statz of New Avenue Homes

In the true-fashion of a DIY lifestyle we have to wonder when it is appropriate to buy versus build. Eventually there may come a time with our shifting lives when we may need to up-size our living arrangements. Maybe a child is on the way, or a relative is coming to stay with you for a period of time, or a good friend is need of a place to stay, any of these situations can occur. So when deciding to move into a larger home, it typically involves months of stressful weekends looking at open houses, submitting competing offers, talking to your bankers and discussing financing rates and strategies, talking to your realtor, and checking online real estate listings websites numerous times a day. Let’s not even talk about the level of anxiety once you are a week away from closing. Waiting on inspectors and making sure you got the loan… these are all major stressors. Once the deal is done, you then get the “fun” job of packing up your life and moving it to your next abode and living out of boxes for however long it takes for you to turn your new house into your new home.

In certain scenarios, you don’t need to follow the situation I just outlined above. Instead there is growing amount of Americans who steer away from this process of buying a bigger house and focus on expanding the property they already have. These people with adequate land space and permits have chosen the accessory dwelling avenue. Accessory dwellings also known as “Backyard Cottages” or “Guest Houses” are a growing shift in the American cultural viewpoint that “bigger is better”. Instead of purchasing larger, more expensive homes, people are choosing to invest their money in their existing property. This shift from quantity of space to quality of space is in step with most progressive American’s as they turn away from mass-marketed fast food to quality local organic foods, from driving large SUV’s to more efficient and environmentally conscious electric or hybrid cars.Orinda Kitchen

An accessory dwelling is basically a smaller house located on the same lot of the main house. Depending on your lot space this may be where you find this project to not be feasible, but if you have the space, keep reading. The next major challenge is permitting, depending on what amenities you plan to include in your accessory dwelling the permitting costs can increase significantly. Most backyard cottages have a built-in bathroom, but when it comes to installing full-kitchens permits costs can increase significantly; this is dependent on the county, and may or may not apply.

Now on the fun part: the design! Typically people tend to design the exterior facade of their backyard cottage to match that of their main house. However this does not have to be true for the purpose of the cottage. We’ve seen people build music studios, play rooms for kids, man caves, or the more traditional guest houses or in-law units. Either way these are just some examples of the plethora of options you can consider while you dream about your new backyard cottage.DIY_andrew-statz

Living in the SF bay area the costs of a backyard cottage can range based on the size and intricacy of what you plan on constructing. The sizes usually range from 250 square feet for around $120,000 to 750 square feet for around $250,000. Compared to the 2013 San Francisco Bay Area prices, 2014 home prices have grown 18% 1. So that means you can sell your house for 18% more and buy a bigger house that was previously out of your price range for also…18% more. Let’s say you’ve been saving for this process for a while now, but you still have to pay the agent that selling your old place the 5%, then you have closing costs, then moving costs. Assuming you are upgrading from a 3 bedroom to a 4 bedroom house, your old house in the SF Bay Area could easily be worth around $1 million dollars (for simplicity sake), that translates to $50,000 in realtor commissions alone, not even accounting for the other closing fees. Ultimately you are already at 30% of cost to build a sizable and nice backyard cottage. Furthermore, the money you invest in your backyard cottage only adds to the equity/ property value of your existing main house.

Ultimately the utility you achieve from having a separated unit from the main house is intangible. The freedom to blast music in your new music studio without waking the wife or kids, the privacy provided to guests and in-laws, these are all achievable without buying bigger, but builder smaller. So the question comes back to whether you are a builder or a buyer. We’ve seen that people who invest in their homes versus purchasing new homes typically are happier and are much more proud of the work they have put into their home compared to those who treat their house just a stopping point along to their next house. Builders invest in their homes, which translates to investing in their communities. Are you a builder?

Orinda Cottage newavenuehomes

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Guest Post: Ways in Providing Elder Care for Couples

This guest post is written by Maya Pugh, Content Writer. 

Taking care of one elderly is easier than taking care of an aging couple. Responsibilities differ – in fact the responsibilities double because taking care of two elderly would require the caregiver to focus on both. It is easier to focus on one patient and be able to give quality care rather than two people.

To make things easier not just for the caregiver or family member that is providing care, but also for the elderly couple, here are tips that are helpful in caring for the elderly couple especially for home care:

  • Removing rugs or anything on the floor that would cause the elderly to slip or fall. Avoid any objects that would cause the aging people to fall when they walk.
  • Secure the handrails of the stairs. It is better to have a one-level home or facility that doesn’t require for them to go up and down the stairs. If not, provide them with a motorized chair that they can use to carry them up and down the stairs. Their frail bodies do not have enough energy to go up and down the stairs.
  • If in the bathroom, install non-slip strips to keep them from slipping in the bathroom especially if the bathroom floors get wet. Make sure to install hand rails as well around the bathroom walls where they can use for support.
  • Install ramps for easier access and adding secure hand rails for homes or facilities with stairs.
  • If they are left alone, make sure they have pre-cooked meals so all they have to do is reheat when they’re hungry.
  • Install a phone with large buttons for them to see and be easily accessible especially for those in wheelchairs. Make sure there is already a pre-programmed emergency numbers just in case.

However, if an elderly is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, never leave them alone. This is where a 24/7 home care assistance is needed. Other health conditions needing assistance will always require constant watch from either a family member or from a caregiver.

You can always ask the support from your family members or friends, your church, a social worker or therapist or from a local hospital. You don’t have to take all the responsibilities for yourself especially if both your elderly parents need help. This is a big responsibility and for a family member having limited knowledge, it is advisable to seek professional help.

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Guest Post: How to Make a Cookie-Cutter House Scream “You”

Guest Post submitted by Paisley Hansen who writes on behalf of rusticahardware.com which has been featured on HGTV and a few other large networks. 

After years of accumulating things, downsizing can seem daunting. Where do I put everything? What do I keep and how do I make this house a home? Personalizing your house is usually a matter of hanging your favorite art on the walls, populating the house with plants and adding colorful rugs and pillows. Trendy homes utilize surprising paint schemes, distressed furnishings and old stuff arranged into amazing forms. Not everyone can afford that, though, so they make up their own version of the cool pictures they see online. You can customize a cookie-cutter house with just a few dollars, some paint, hardware and imagination.

Kitchen/Dining Room

It’s easy enough to distress existing cabinetry. Simply paint them in two or three shades of the color or stain you like. Gently ding them with something heavy, but not enough to dent them. Then softly sand the dings until the shades of paint or stain come through. This can be done with your china cabinet and sideboard in the dining room, too.

Home Design

What would the kitchen look like with no overhead cabinets? Have you wanted more space but didn’t know how to get it? Take the cabinets off the walls. Paint the walls if necessary. Instead of shelves, attach the fireplace mantels that are trending now. Different lengths and widths will give the kitchen a customized look, and they will give you extra room to store dishes or whatever you need stored.

Do you have French doors between the kitchen and dining room? Feel like a change-up? Remove the French doors and attach barndoor hardware above the door frame. The barn door itself can either slide or open out. Paint the door any color you wish, or let the natural wood shine through. These can be hung in any room you wish, or even as an entry door that will have the neighbors getting one of their own.

Living Room

Who doesn’t love ceiling beams? Mitered beams can be hung in the usual shape, or you could make them look like sunbeams spreading from a central point. From that central point could be hung a chandelier made from a wagon wheel perhaps. These would be a stunning reflection of your hardwood floors.

Home Design 2

Perhaps beams don’t do it for you. A mural like you would find in the Sistine Chapel could showcase your individuality perfectly. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, find items at yard sales and resale shops. Silver plates, wrought iron railings, old wooden sleds or old doors could be made into a focal point in the room. A little paint and some old hemp rope would give these and other items new life.

Bedrooms

Every kid wants his/her room to be his/her own. For the sporting child, the room could be painted to resemble a baseball diamond. Get some mesh to make a backstop, where his stuffed animals, ball implements and a uniform jersey could be hung. The nature’s child might like a room painted like a field of wheat, a forest or a barnyard. If you can obtain the side of the barn with the door, place it at an angle on two walls. Behind the door could be her stuffed animals in her own space. The fishing nut could use a canoe. Atop the canoe, you could build a desk with built-in bookshelves. You could make it into a bed, if it’s wide enough.

The master bedroom is a place for relaxation and peaceful sleep. If you can’t afford a floor-to-ceiling fish tank, paint it onto the wall. Close out the world with a bit of material and a curtain rod. Attach the curtain rod to the ceiling above the bed. Wind sheers as well as another material from the rod so they drape over the bed. Paint the ceiling with midnight starry skies.

Individualizing your home makes it not only stand out in the crowd, but it’s comforting and a source of pride. Photo images via Paisley Hansen/google images search

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Guest Post: Plumbing Maintenance Tips Caretakers of Seniors Ought to Know

This guest post is compliments of Keith Delute of http://www.drdrip.com.au. The views expressed do not necessarily match my own:

Repairs in different parts of the plumbing system is too much for the monthly budget of an elderly person. However, preventative maintenance done by a caretaker can help remove such costs. Here are a few plumbing maintenance tips that those taking care of the elderly can do to prevent leaks and clogs, which can endanger the lives of the elderly.

1. Avoid pouring cooking oil down the drains. Cooking oil, once poured down drains, eventually cools and hardens, causing them to get clogged. Instead of pouring grease down the drains, place them in empty milk cartons, tape them shut, and then dispose of them in the regular garbage bins after a night inside the fridge.

2. Use drain screens. Use drain screens made of metal or plastic to prevent hair strands, food particles, and other small items from passing through the drains. Once many small items are caught by the screens, make sure to lift them out and toss the contents in the trash.

3. Each month, sprinkle 60 ml baking soda into the tub and sink drains. Instead of relying on the toxic and expensive drain clog removers, sprinkle ¼ cup or 60 millilitres of baking soda, and then pour boiling water so all the powder goes down the drain.

Pour one cup of white vinegar afterwards. Allow the mixture to stand overnight to dissolve the build up of bacteria and scum in the pipes beneath the drains. Then pour hot water on the drains after the said time.

4. Ensure that tap washers last longer. In order to make sure that tap washers will last longer, avoid tightening the handle too much when stopping the flow of water.

5. Have washing machine hose screens installed. These help in making washing machines last longer and work better. Install these on the hoses to prevent any sediment from clogging the valves and pumps of your washing machine. Be sure of checking the hose screens each year and replacing them if they are full of debris or sediment.

6. Clear all tap aerators. As time passes, calcium builds up in aerators, eventually obstructing water flow. To solve this, all you have to do is to take out the aerators and clean them at least once a week.

These are the simple things that those taking care of the elderly can do to prevent clogs and leaks from happening. In the event of a plumbing issue, qualified and licensed plumbers should be contacted immediately to keep it from worsening. You can check out http://www.drdrip.com.au/ for plumbing services you can trust.

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