This is beginning my third year as a self appointed investigative reporter on all things aging in place. I predict that three subject areas will receive more media coverage as the year progresses. Each has implications for those of us who want to stick it out on our own as long as we can. In combination, these trends may all add up to literally changing the aging at home landscape.
First: Skilled nursing facilities have had more bad press this last year then ever before. As the news media magnifies the more sensational headlines about abuse between residents, evictions of residents of advanced age and the persistent rate of rampant infections, the cost of care has gone up. Coupled on top of this is more scrutiny on the decline of nursing home standards. The reality is that the population that is moving into skilled level of care is sicker and more frail than before. Keeping attendant staff has already become a major stumbling block. An off shoot of this crisis in staff shortages , has spawned the push to use more tech to watch, guard and measure the life force of multiple residents by monitor screen not bed checks. My hope is that all this documented scrutiny will lead to more realistic changes in how attendants are trained and compensated and that standards of individual facilities will be made more available to the public.
Second: This public airing of the faults and drawbacks with standard nursing homes may push the creation of more smaller assisted care homes that keep residents out of skilled nursing care longer. The Eden project was started years ago by Dr Bill Thomas to reinvent the nursing home. This is still very much in flux as homes that take care of only 6-10 residents have become more common. If these smaller can be run effectively and efficiently, they could be a better investment. Many large scale corporate owners who are losing fiscally.
Third: All the hype about tiny homes, granny pods, secondary care homes have given way to the more solid concept of ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units). Think of it as a mother in law suite/small house in the back yard. Designs are popping up all over. The idea of an independent unit built for you on your own family’s property will be getting more positive attention. Along with that will be hollering and screaming from communities about density and changing the nature of the neighborhood. Canada as usual is already dealing with these lands feuds and debating about how big and where to build. Zoning lords will be addressing if adding a 400-500 ft secondary suite, granny pod etc dwelling alongside or behind your house on your property is a right not a travesty.
Finally I learned a new vocabulary word this week. The real estate practice of “scrapping” is now more upon us as the high end of the developer market wants to find more ways to use their tax break. Denver must have some funky zoning laws as it is legal there to buy a 800 sq foot bungalow on its property, scrape it down to the ground and build a double duplex ( 4 units) to sell for 500,000 each! Will anyone use these tax incentives to build more affordable units for seniors? Will zoning boards allow for smaller care homes in more neighborhoods?
It not the wild west, but I think we will see some real land grabbing on all fronts. Putting and taking, downsizing and up-sizing, we will have to see how this all plays out.