ADUs can be part of cost-effective option for eldercare

Contributed by Sue Sorenson | Take My Hand At Home Care | October 7, 2020

As we age, the options for health care and assistance only get more expensive. Nursing home care, for example, can cost $90,000 to $100,000 per year in Washington state. Assisted living can cost approximately $50,000 per year and up.

However, one option for caring for aging parents and loved ones is to add an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, to your property to aid in the provision of at-home care. Doing so allows families to keep their aging loved ones nearby, not only being able to oversee their care but also to spend more time with them as they age.

ADUs have been around the Whatcom County area for a long time. The rules for ADUs — whether free-standing structures or finished basements or attics — can vary depending on your location, so it’s important to check with your local jurisdiction before getting started. The rules in Bellingham are different than the rules in Lynden, Ferndale and unincorporated Whatcom County.

In general, here are some options you might consider when thinking about adding an ADU to your property to help care for an aging loved one at home:

  • Refinish a basement or attic. Especially after children grow up and move out, homeowners often find themselves with extra space inside their homes that can be remodeled to accommodate a loved one. Adding a bathroom and small kitchen to a finished basement, for example, can turn unneeded storage or play space into important living quarters for a loved one.
  • Buy a prefabricated ADU to place behind your house. As ADUs become increasingly popular, more and more companies are offering prefab ADUs — built to your specifications — that can be sited on your property with minimal construction costs and delays. At a cost of less than one year in a nursing home, a gorgeous prefab ADU could provide years of comfortable living. A prefab accessory dwelling unit can provide some autonomy and privacy while also keeping loved ones nearby.
  • Convert a shed or detached garage to a “granny flat” or cottage dwelling. Do you have a shed or garage on your property that’s just storing unused junk? Converting it to an accessory dwelling unit could be a wonderful way to reclaim that wasted space.

No matter what type of ADU you decide on as an alternative for assisted living, remember to check your local government’s website or put in a phone call to find out exactly what rules and regulations govern the construction of an ADU on your property.

You’ll also want to consider how to get your loved one the help he or she needs. Will family members be providing the care, or will you hire part-time help to assist with activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping, transportation to doctor visits, cooking and more? For information on how Take My Hand At-Home Care might be able to help provide care in your new ADU, please feel free to give us a call.

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