Many families of individuals with special needs, or an elderly parent, want to foster their loved ones’ independence. Some may find that their loved one is happiest with a personal living space, as independent living offers greater autonomy. However, several barriers prevent many adults with special needs from living on their own. By building an Accessory Dwelling Unit, a small home on your property, you can help your loved one overcome the obstacles to independent living.
Independent Living Gives Rise to Safety Concerns
Safety considerations may prevent individuals with special needs from moving away from their families. Assisted living facilities and apartments are often far from the loved one’s family and unsuited to the individual’s needs. A study published in the National Library of Medicine identified three primary barriers stopping adults with special needs from living alone, which invoke safety and caregiver proximity concerns:
- Personal safety worries
- Needing help with household skills
- Requiring assistance remembering to take medications
Some people with special needs may also need specific accommodations to make their homes safe, such as wheelchair ramps, shower bars, and larger doorways, which can be unavailable in apartment buildings.
Independent living options are often too far from family, making it difficult to maintain contact and provide social support and assistance. Moving far away from caregivers can be unfeasible for individuals with special needs who need some help with daily living but could benefit from independent living. For example, an adult with special needs may enjoy having a personal residence yet needs help with medications. Adults with special needs can benefit from having family nearby to check on them.
Cost Implications for Adults with Special Needs Living Independently
Although apartment buildings and assisted living facilities can provide independent living for individuals with special needs, the high cost can pose financial challenges. Waiting lists on senior house or programs such as Section 8 can take years.
- From 2021 to 2022, median rents rose 15 percent to above $2,000, according to National Public Radio.
- For assisted living facilities, the national median monthly cost was $4,500 in 2021, according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey.
Accessory Dwelling Units can be more cost-effective than assisted living or renting an apartment. Establishing one of these tiny homes can help your family avoid high monthly assisted living or apartment fees.
Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units
Allowing people with special needs to have their own living space nearby family — in many cases, only a few feet away — Accessory Dwelling Units present a solution to safety and cost concerns. Like so-called “granny suites” or in-law apartments, Accessory Dwelling Units are additional living areas within a single property. More petite than typical houses, they are separate dwellings on the parcel and can include a standard home’s features, such as a kitchen, living room bedroom, and bathroom. Some jurisdictions require Accessory Dwelling Units to follow the same architectural style as the main house.
Located near the primary dwelling, an Accessory Dwelling Unit can help your loved one live alone safely. Residing next door to your loved one, you can provide assistance when needed, while your loved one has their own place to call home.
As an owner of the Accessory Dwelling Unit, you can precisely tailor it to your loved one’s needs. If your loved one’s needs change, you can adapt the home without having to ask a landlord for permission.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit can also add value to your property. If you go to sell your home, buyers may see the Accessory Dwelling Unit as a positive factor since they may be able to use it as an income source, guest house, or family residence.
Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit will certainly have cost implications and may not be permitted even on your own property, but it may be worth investigating depending on your situation.