El­der care op­tions can be a win for whole fam­ily

Central Leader - - OPINION -

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.

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