The phrase granny flat is one that was coined in Australia, a country famed for its no-nonsense straight talking, in the mid 20th century. Most people agree that it is a far better phrase than dowager house, which sounds like something straight out of Downton Abbey, or the somewhat clinical secondary dwelling. Whatever you want to call it, the concept has gained in popularity worldwide over the past couple of decades.
Accepting the Inevitable
Acknowledging that our parents or grandparents are no longer the all-conquering mental and physical force that they once were is one of the toughest things we have to do. Yet it is also something we all must face sooner or later, and as one wise lady once said, growing old is “better than the alternative.”
Most people want to stay in their own homes as long as they are able, but there is no dividing line between the ability to lead an independent life and the need for complete care. Some opt for sheltered accommodation, where they have their own apartment or bungalow, but a warden is on hand at the press of a button if help is needed.
For many, though, this is a time to be close to family, and those no-nonsense Australians were among the first to fully embrace the idea of the granny flat. Today, the concept is being adopted by families the world over.
One of the hardest experiences in life is the death of a partner. The lucky among us live long, happy lives together, but that means that when one partner does go, it can leave the other feeling lost and lonely at a vulnerable age. This is, perhaps, the time to make the change, as the remaining parent or grandparent will value the opportunity to have family close at hand, while at the same time having their own space.
That space being somewhere other than the home in which they spent so many years of married life can also help them to move on.
Best for Everyone
Having parents and grandparents close at hand, where we can pop in for a chat every day is not just good for them. There are plenty of people in their 40s and 50s who are able to kindle newer and stronger relationships with their parents than ever before. Having grandparents (or great grandparents) close at hand is also wonderful for children, making memories that last a lifetime.
Not Just for Grannies
The granny flat is not just for elderly relatives. Consider the plight of this lady: Her brother had suffered from a mental disability since birth, and had always been cared for by their father. The father was caring but controlling, and had never let the brother really explore what he could do for himself.
Now, with the father approaching 90 and needing care of his own, she was forced to consider what would become of her brother. A granny flat provided the perfect opportunity for him, and in his mid-50s, he gained a degree of independence for the first time, with his loving sister and her family on hand to provide companionship and support whenever it was needed.