Elder care options can be a win for whole family
Sometimes there is just a better way to do something.
And when you run across an example, you just have to share it.
That’s how I felt when I read one of the many emails that came in about last week’s column on the pros and cons of older people selling their homes and moving into retirement villages.
Moving into a retirement village has been a costly decision for many in recent years as their old homes gained in value after they sold them to buy their way into a retirement village unit they’ll never own.
To some the retirement village industry is a legitimate business providing for a need. Others see it differently.
One reader characterised it as: ‘‘Wealthy property developers masquerading as caregivers for the elderly while building and trading in apartments on the back of hardearned nuclear family capital, thereby robbing extended family of inter-generational wealth.’’
Strong sentiments, but with more than a grain of truth to them, and the story that backs that statement is worth sharing and perhaps provides an example many others can learn from.
‘‘Across the generations people are forgetting to explore alternative creative options,’’ our reader says.
‘‘The real loss is the love, learning and memories to be experienced between generations living close by.
‘‘It takes a village to bring up a child and extended family to protect the frail.’’ Her family’s model is this. ‘‘Our 82-year-old nana lives in a small but groovy apartment in our street among young people.
‘‘She laughs a lot. She irons the family shirts better than anyone, makes the odd dinner, eats with us on average four to seven nights and helps with great-grandchild minding.
‘‘She has rented out the family home in another suburb to earn an income to fund this lifestyle and that allows her to buy small treats for her grandchildren from time to time. She belongs to us, retains her independence, is proud of her contribution and recently announced if she had gone to the retirement village when she became a widow her capital would be valued at about $200,000.’’
Since then her home has tripled in value.
‘‘It’s worth $850,000 and she knows she is increasing capital value so the next generation can buy a home when she dies.’’
It’s a wonderful story, but one many families are not close enough, or loving enough, to emulate.
But it does show that conventions are there to be flouted. Letting out her old house and renting something smaller provided extra income and did not disturb her New Zealand super payments.
Had she moved in with her family, or moved in with a friend and rented her old home out, she’d have been hit with a reduction in the amount of super she got paid.
The reader also calls for a return of the ‘‘granny flat’’, which would bring granny or grandpa even closer to the family, but these must be lovely, sunny set-ups.
Grannies under the house in cramped, inappropriate conditions would constitute a form of elder abuse.
But if you have a granny flat built, then granny’s house can be rented out when she moves in to pay off the loan taken out to build it. And a proper granny flat with its own kitchen or kitchenette, its own external door and bathroom, are also not deemed to be shared accommodation, so New Zealand super payments remain intact.