Older Aussies reaping the benefits of surprise care trend

In the world of retirement living, it’s well known that Christmas Day and the early New Year period is a crucial time when it comes to planning for the health and happiness of elderly parents.

The long, languid hours on Christmas Day typically give families some much-needed breathing space to finally have a good discussion about ‘what’s next’ for mum and dad.

Sometimes, the elderly parents will make a shock announcement that they’re thinking of downsizing from the family home and moving into an over-50s community.

At other times, the family’s adult children may witness first-hand how their parents have aged and start making unsolicited prompts to mum and dad about safer and more appropriate housing options.

That’s why over-50s housing inquiries tend to jump in mid to late January, after the adult children have returned from holidays and start to take action to help their parents.

Read: NZ care model streets ahead and coming to Australia

Until now, it’s been a reasonably safe bet to assume that these inquiries have been about the parents moving into retirement living and the children staying in their homes.

This year, however, there may be a new twist on this long-time trend, with more retirement living operators looking at accepting both the parents and the adult children into their communities.

For instance, IRT’s proposed new retirement village at Towradgi, south of Sydney, will include dwelling garages that can be converted to live-in carer accommodation, including for the adult children of residents.

The carer’s accommodation will have its own front door and access to a bathroom, and would share a kitchen with the main dwelling. It will be the first adaptable live-in carers’ accommodation at any IRT retirement village.

Queensland-based retirement village operator Aura recently published the story of Kimberley Richards, who is the primary carer for her mother Jan at The Avenue at Maroochydore.

Read: Australia set for dire aged care shortage in the next decade

“Mum spent 18 months in aged care in high care after suffering a stroke,” Ms Richards said.

“But when COVID first hit in 2020, I decided to take mum out and she lived with me. I was working from home and could spend more time on her therapy and she started to improve.

“But where we were living there were two flights of stairs so I decided to look for a better option that would be more manageable for mum and enable her to be involved in a community of people and able to participate in activities.

“I didn’t realise I could live here with mum as her carer. We have only recently moved in but I have already seen positive changes in mum. She is really happy here and ready to make friends and get involved.”

Aura has a policy that is open to having a carer live with a resident in their apartment within the company’s south-east Queensland retirement villages.

“We are very open to this form of arrangement and will consider it on a case-by-case basis,” says Aura Holdings director Mark Taylor.

“At times it might only need to be short term while a resident recovers from illness or surgery. We want to be flexible to the needs of all our residents to ensure they have the quality of life they deserve while living in our communities.”

National retirement living operator Lendlease also assesses proposals for live-in carers case by case.

Read: How does the ATO define downsizing?

Meanwhile, land lease community operator Hampshire Villages has released a duplex home at its Pelican Waters community at Leopold near Geelong south-west of Melbourne, which will be purpose built to allow family and friends to live alongside each other.

One of the homes has already been purchased by a mother and daughter.

“The daughter works on the Spirit of Tasmania and will stay in one of the duplexes when the ship docks in Geelong in the new year,” a Hampshire spokeswoman said.

The trend towards adult children living with their parents in retirement communities is in line with research that has shown COVID has brought families closer together.

Research by retirement living provider Stockland published in November 2020 found that, because of COVID-19, Australians aged over 55 are now increasingly wanting to retire near their family.

At the same time, adult children are now more likely to worry about their parents’ safety and security.

This means we are likely to see more multi-generational retirement communities in coming years.

Were you aware of the trend to allow carers or adult children to live alongside residents in over-50s communities? What do you think of the move? Why not share your views in the comments section below?

Mark Skelsey is the editor of over-50s housing portal Downsizing.com.au

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