What About Retirement Homes?

MoccasinOctober 16, 2011

It's been mentioned in a recent thread, and back in January 2011, Phoggie started a thread which had 55 responses to it. I'll give a link to that one below.

But are you thinking that at some point you WILL/MIGHT move into a different home for your retirement years?

What are your considerations going to be?

Will it be due to your health issues?

Due to economic issues?

And what are your non-negotiable needs in such a home?

If we expect the contractors/builders to take us seriously, we will have to develop a VOICE that they can hear. So, let's hear a practice run. If you were talking to your builder tomorrow, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HIM TO BUILD?

Here is a link that might be useful: Phoggie's Retirement Home Thread

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Well, I clicked and it did not appear here.

I'd run a search on the entire Garden Web site, using the search box at the bottom of the Smaller Homes main page.
Would you believe there are 661 threads about retirement homes on GWeb?

LOTS of hits about this, many many people concerned all across the forums. So have at it folks.
What is different now than it was a year ago?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I'm new & can only add my current voice, & thank you moccasinlanding, cause this info WILL be presented to a local builder.

I want:

A community that has single detached houses that are:

NOT lined up like soldiers.

NOT a condo association beyond external maintenence (lawn mowing & snow plowing)I do not want to pay for someone else's roof. I will share in the fees associated with the maintenence of green space between houses, but will pay my own driveway & private yard maintenence when & how I want it.

Child free. (other than grandkids)

Individual, not cloned. Open to personalized floorplans, not just 1 from column A, one from column B.

1500-1700 sq ft.

Equipped with walk-out lower levels - for rent-outs, boomerang kids, live-in help, storage, whatever.

Well-built & charming like our generation is used to.

Landscaped for complete privacy in the back, having just enough land for a private patio & other optional features such as water feature, fireplace. Again, only the individual homeowner will pay for this private maintenence.

Close to convenient shopping & medical care while being nestled in peace & quiet.

Situated on hills & streams & mature trees, not just flat land with immature plantings.

Part of a Crime Watch Association, but NOT a political "Neighborhood Association"

Can't wait to see what you all have to offer as suggestions!!!


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:07AM
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I'm working on mine now... on my land - with little maintenance. some limbs and brush that I clear (ha!) during winter months.
about 1500 sq ft - rather open spaces. I'm changing / putting in things with that in mind - and being disabled. particular about things like door knobs/levers, cabinet pulls.

it has about 4 steps up to it but will eventually put in a ramp at one ext door. that's already on the list.

a shower that is separate - and easy in/out of it.

kitchen small enough I can reach sink, stove, refridge with just a few steps. I've already thinned out kitchen stuff and it will be on shelves with easy access. I'd like to put in at least base cab drawers in a yr or so but what I'm doing now has told me I don't wanna go into much more kit redo than that! It'll have to be some time before I'd be ready to do even that. I'll need lots of re-coop time just from the making it liveable and moving over.

no carpet

extra / new / wider doorway into one room off of the kitchen so I have easy access within ft of the kitchen.

and as I move/pack/unpack stuff is being trashed, given away, sort and repacked with labels for the kids, gkids etc.

I'll have a room set up with table/counter for work space for things like wrapping gifts, working on photos / scrapbooks. would like to get the photos and other family stuff in order and not leave the kids a 40-50 yr mess.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 1:46AM
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Sometimes we have animals in our homes, and it should be allowed conveniently. It is the larger dogs who are trained to help the blind and wheelchair-bound people.

I'm not speaking for what will come to my house, but I do think the ramps added on to existing homes are very unattractive when they are added. If up to code, they must be so long to accomplish the low rise required. I think building those ramps into the home's approach should be done in a manner compatible with the style of the home.

I know 1500 sq feet sounds small, compared to an average sized home these days, but I would need less space than that. Unless you count the garage for the balance, and then have insulated doors on it.

In many cases, we will with advancing years lose the ability to drive a car. So how about a golf cart, or a small vehicle that can be battery run, plugged in to a power outlet in our garage, or even an electric grocery cart we can ride home from the store on the sidewalks?

I speak of that because a friend of mine living in a ground floor condo is 83, and she has great difficulty bringing her gallon bottles of water to her front door from her car. She breaks ribs spontaneously, and can barely care for herself. Her little mail carrier is almost her only daily human contact, because she brings mail straight to her door. This is in Phoenix. The vaulted ceilings of her condo have big panes of glass that let so much light into the rooms that keeping cool is not an option when outside temps reach 117 degrees. She cannot much of the day sit in her living room.

So I'm thinking that roof overhangs must shade the windows in hot climates, as well as wet rainy climates. Outdoor finishes must not require constant maintenance, nor have plantings against the buildings, not done by the construction crew, but maybe have walking paths up near the home instead of shrubbery.

An attempt must be made for hurricane proof windows. Either the new kind of glass in the windows, or operable shutters, the roll down kind, electric operation or manual roll down in case of a power outage before a storm.

I'm not accustomed to basements in my part of the world. So walkouts are not familiar part of our homes. But having a separate entrance for live-in help is a good idea. Maybe have that entrance near the main entry for the property owner. I think we all need a second entry, it is sort of like a burrow where the groundhog always makes his second exit to escape! But getting trash to the curb or in a spot for collection is a good idea. I'd really like to have an easier way to take care of the garbage from the home without requiring me to take it to the curb. It is something I've not thought about before, but you don't want to be buried in your own trash. How do you get rid of it if you are incapacitated?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:51AM
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moccasin -

For your friend with the skylights, she should consider one of these covers. We have a cluster skylight in the middle of our great room that is roughly 10' x 17', I kid you not. It was unbearable the first summer we lived here. I researched all the options and came up with these covers. We put the cover on in the spring and take it off and store it in the fall, but my guess is that it could be left on year-round. It works wonders for keeping out heat and glare, but still allows for light and a view of the trees. Oh, and it smells like the interior of a 1965 VW Beetle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Skylight cover

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:24PM
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Excellent points about animals & TRASH!!! Hmmmm...& good points about wheelchair access, etc. I've been looking at floorplans with accessibility & efficiency in mind.

I really find the trash & mail issues very important. So in my dream community, mail will be deivered to the door, not put in boxes by the street. Exteriors are going to be important I think, keeping in mind the trash area, no steps to the house, & actually driveways that are easy to navigate for older drivers. Maybe circular driveways so that backing out isn't an issue. Since I live in an area that gets 130" of snow a year, visibility is problematic.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 1:28PM
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One of the things I most enjoy about all of GW and especially Smaller Homes is the diversity of thought and perspective offered. It is a joy that we can view our world individually, yet seek ideas and opinions from a divergent group.

Were I to require retirement housing, it would need to be separate, private, level, quiet... and dog-free. Please hear me out: I truly like animals (do not have any currently), but DO NOT care for most owners. I have three dogs next door, that bark ceaselessly, inside or out. The working owners leave the window cracked in a house with full hardwood floors. Can I say ECHO? The working folks behind have one large dog and a nanny for the two children. Nanny puts the dog out and apparently cannot hear the animal as it whimpers and whines by the back door an hour at a time. Across the street are two tiny yappers, whose owners are sequestered inside, apparently deaf! And the little old lady up the street has her terrier in a pen, lonely and yelping for long periods.

As an outdoor lover, working in my garden and enjoying the patio loses something in the cacophony. Having windows open in pleasant weather simply raises my blood pressure. Oddly enough, I seem to be the only person around who actually opens windows, including opening blinds!

Off that soapbox, I'd need a small garden. The house 1000sf, 2-bed, 1 1/2 bath, some old-fashioned charm. No high ceilings. Ideal, but not practical, some services within walking distance.

I'll have to think more...........

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 1:40PM
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I think retirement homes are like any other home...the more individuality you want, the less control over others, the community is going to have. If you want to have a community without children, barking dogs, too many cars or trash, etc. then you're probably not going to have too many choices in floor plan or outside area. All lined up like little soldiers are probably going to be the look of those houses.

If you want to be more individualistic, have multiple floor plans, garden spaces, pets, grandkids, multiple vehicles, etc. it's going to be more difficult to complain about noise from pets and kids. Also, while I love gardens, some people will complain if it's not all 'nice lawn' with a few color-approved flower beds.

I'm not saying this to be difficult, just pointing out the obvious. I've lived on a farm and on military base housing, so I probably have had both extremes! LOL

So, all that being said, I do think that creative, well designed, detailed homes should be more readily available. Just because homes are handicap accessible or just have rocker switches and easy access...doesn't mean they shouldn't have nice built-ins, clever storage and flexible spaces.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 4:10PM
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"If up to code, they must be so long to accomplish the low rise required."

yes, last wk I was reading up on how to build one. I only have 2 acres! lol! there was something about a 5' platform at each turn of it also. that part does make sense tho. mine probably won't be up to code...

right now i'm just working on one for my old girl. She can manage a few steps if not too steep - has deep steps (front to back) and not too much space between them. probably about 6" would be good.

not 83 yet but I have trouble with a gallon jug! last yr I got a wagon to use to get groceries from car to door. most often tho I take them in a bit at a time - getting a bag or 2 each time I walk my girl.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 6:09PM
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I have in my home many of the things discussed here. I moved to a Continuing Care Retirement Community a year ago. My previous home was a ranch-one story, but garage underneath and long flight of steps to the front door. We had put an elevator chair in the basement stairs for my husband. He found it too much if he had to walk up the stairs repeatedly. In addition care of the house and lawn, etc had really become too much for him at age 80. Here we live in a duplex (neighbor on one side) one story. All the houses here are different and can be (and are) customized to the tenant's desires (at a fee, of course). But all have wide doors, door levers, not knobs, single control faucets, flush in-ground garbage cans to one side of the front door concealed by greenery. I have wood floors except for one bedroom. Roofs have overhangs (we're in WA state--lots of rain) which function nicely for shade in summer. Gutters and gardens are maintained by the organization, but residents can add what they want at their own expense. Any problems w/ the house or appliances are taken care of & ceiling or high fixture bulbs are replaced when needed--no climbing on ladders. This is a rather lage community for a CCRC--about 1200 residents & about 800 homes. the campus is 140 acres and is an arboretum. The one thing many haven't mentioned is when or if you can't live unaided. There is in-home assistance available here (additional charge), and when that isn't sufficient, one can move to assisted living in one of the apartments in assisted living building. After that there is a long-term care facility here as well, which is not what you usually think of. For instance, there's a grand piano in the main reception area which is used by both entertainers brought in and the residents. There is more I could add, but you get the idea. There is more to thinkig long-term than just the physical house. I could have stayed where I was because, fortunately, I have no physical difficulties which I think I keep that way as a result of lifting free weights between 15-35 lbs & bench press 70 lbs. This keeps both bones & muscles strong & lifting groceries and water bottles is not a problem. I encourage everyone to do it. I'm 79 and know whereof I speak.
Is it perfect here? No, we live on the perimeter of the campus, and so the regular neighborhood extends behind us. Dogs barking? Check. Motorcycles? check. Do we like all our neighbors? No, but we didn't where we moved from either. But all things considered, its fine.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 3:41AM
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peel what a wonderful testimony ...you are still experiencing a full life. My computer is in shop. On phone. Will give your contribution the attn it deserves when I can use all the my fingers.


    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 10:47AM
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Thank you, leel. Your experience is helpful.

I see a Dog Dilemma in a retirement home community as an issue. While we all could acknowledge the therapeutic benefits of dogs with seniors, there IS that dilemma of barking & other issues, such as cleaning up after them. What solutions would others see to this other than a stringent "code of conduct"...i.e. "Barking Clause" (no pun intended).

I like dogs & have a few myself, but have learned the joys of having a cat instead. Yet would it be fair to limit pets to cats, birds, & hamsters??? Hmmmm...and what could you all see as reasonable & fair as to kids & grandkids visits so as to limit noise from them???

I have never heard of in-ground garbage cans!!! That's an awesome idea, but we get so much snow here I don't know if we could incorporate it...speaking of which, however if the driveways were heated that might work.

Definitely there IS more than the physical house, it is the lifestyle that is extremely important.

kitykat, I also enjoy my windows being open, but yes the noise can be nerve-wracking - the trash trucks, the delivery trucks, the lawn & landscape people...just get to be too much & I'm a nervous wreck!!! As a designer going into homes all the time I have noticed that literally NO ONE opens their windows, & I have always found that very strange!!! I have also seen an increase in people never opening their blinds or draperies & I wonder what that's all about. In the heat of summer I can understand, but NEVER???

Thank you all for your opinions & ideas & keep em coming!!! I'm taking notes...


    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 5:12PM
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I should add that many of the residents here have dogs, and there are rules re dog ownership--cleaning up after them, nuisance, etc. The barking I was referring to was dogs who live in the adjoining "public" neighborhood. It has not been a problem on the campus.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 9:57PM
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Using DH's computer, not a good match for me, but it will do.

Jakabedy, you are too funny. Are you saying the smell is a NEW 1965 VW Beetle? Or a USED one? ;)
I looked at your link, think it would be a great option. I'm in favor of the LIGHT TUNNELS, which can bring small amounts of LIGHT down mirrored tubes to interior spaces which have no windows. Like hallways, and interior bathrooms. Each hole in the roof can have two such tubes connected to it. Of course, no VIEW, but what is the objective with skylights in the first place? If it is a steep pitched roof and the skylight is indeed a roof window, that is different than just wanting light. So the smaller round holes put in the roof would not require special spacing of the rafters. I'm thinking of a one holer with two tubes to install in our dark short hall and the tiny 3/4 bath which has no windows.

Leel, you call your neighborhood the CAMPUS. I think that is a great term. I need to look up the definition of campus because I suspect it can define spaces other than the grounds of a school.

I'm also doing some reading about lost worlds and utopian societies, right now ISLAND by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World author), and you'd never know it was more than 60 years old. Another one is SHE by Rider Haggard. I had a course in lit. at college about utopias gone wrong...DYSTOPIAS, they called them, like DYSPEPSIA or indigestion......so I have read a lot of that kind of science fiction. But these days, science fiction is pretty real and getting closer to scary as days go by. We will have to make some choices about the future of mankind on this earth, or we will be totally muddled up. I wish I could be a fly on the wall for the entire 21st century, but it might be too horrible to wish on anyone.

Raining here, a very gray day. It is colder in south Alabama that it is in Massachusetts, hope my plants are okay.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 3:46PM
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We're still a few years away, but we plan on retiring to a ski resort community in Colorado that we've been visiting for the past 26 years and where we've owned a second home for the past 13 years. We love it there and even more importantly, our DD (only child) has lived there for 10 years, met and married her DH there, and never intends to leave. Little did we know when we took her on her first ski trip at age 6 it would have such an impact on all our futures, but we're very pleased with the way it is turning out. We've even joined an organized, very active, group of over 50s - 80+s made up of locals as well as frequent visitors and second home owners that meet up for skiing in the winter and other activities year round -- the "Over the Hill Gang, " (pun intended), so we will have plenty of other baby boomers to play with.

Ok, to the house. The plan is to eventually build a custom duplex with our DD and SIL. They live in our house now and that works great while we are visiting 3-4 times a year for no more than 1 to 2 weeks at a time, but would get too close on a more permanent basis. We're all in agreement on the general location requirements. Ideally, location will be close to shopping, ski mountain, restaurants, bike trails, medical facility and DD's work, but in a somewhat secluded neighborhood. There actually are several properties on the market now that fit the bill that we're starting to consider.

On to what we would tell the architect or contractor we want . . . I can't speak to the kids' "side," but our side will be one level, open, but defined, floor plan for great room, dining area and kitchen, 10' ceilings with two good sized bedrooms - mbr, with nice sized bath and walk in closet with access to the laundry and another guest room/ study with small bath and closet. The kitchen would be rather small, but with a nice island work and eating space and a generously sized pantry. Good outdoor living with a deck, fenced back yard and dog friendly. Landscaping would be low maintenance with aspens and a variety of evergreens. Two car garage. We would plan for aging in place, with wider doors, hand rail and bench in shower, etc.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 10:49PM
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OK, this is something I am trying not to think about. Due to the fact I will probably be eating cat food and living under a bridge somewhere. Just kidding I hope.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 2:00PM
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LOL katrina!!! Believe me - it's entirely possible that I could be living in a cave. But I love caves, so it won't be so bad. And I'm learning survival skills from Cody Lundin of Dual Survival, so I should be set, one way or the other!!! LOL!!!

Yes, we're all dreaming of our retirememnt "utopia" here...but ya know, I just am thinking about alternative ways to live a decent lifestyle in a community that so far I haven't seen yet that would work for me. I dunno, maybe I'm just different (duh)...

moccasinlanding, any insights from those utopia books to share???


    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 12:26PM
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ML, have your read any John Brunner? I loved his books! The Sheep Look Up, Stand on Zanzibar...

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 12:02AM
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