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One way to avoid this is by physically reuniting different generations of the family.
The Office for National Statistics estimates there are now 419,000 multi-generational households, up from around 325,000 in 2001.
But best of all is the fact that her son Andy is only a stone’s throw away. For widow Kath has just moved in to a purpose-built granny annexe erected at the end of his garden.
All bi-fold doors and cedar cladding, it was built at a cost of £67,000 and boasts a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge.
After a month in her new home, Kath Lowe couldn’t be happier.
Whether she is baking bread in her state-of-the-art kitchen or relaxing in her sitting room, enjoying the view, the 81-year-old grandmother says the move has given her a new lease of life.‘It has a nice ambience, a lovely outlook and it is my own space,’ she says.
‘I live in a three-bed detached house and we floated the idea that we could modify a room a couple of years ago.‘Last August she came up for a trial period to see how she got on and very early on we formed the idea that perhaps we could build an annexe.‘It was really about Mum taking a decision for her later life and asking “what do I want to do? ” .‘I had always encouraged mum to take ownership of her own circumstances, so it was very much her decision.’The pair initially thought about moving to a property with a granny annexe but the cost of moving and lack of suitable homes put paid to that.
Not only is erecting a granny annexe in the garden relatively cheap but it also maintains privacy for both parties.
And there are financial advantages — if a relative over 65 is living in it then it will be exempt from council tax.‘We have been in the business for 30 years but in the past five years there has been a dramatic increase in demand for these sort of buildings for the elderly to live in,’ says Felix Bolger, managing director of Homelodge, a company that has erected some 200 annexes for elderly clients in recent years.‘What people are finding is that rather than spending £50,000 a year on an old people’s home, for a year or two’s money they can purchase an asset that will be there for good.’There are also benefits for wider society.
They then considered converting Andy’s garage before coming up with the idea of a bespoke building in the garden.‘Mum didn’t just want to live in something that had been dumped in my back garden,’ says Andy.
After a bit of research they came across a design — known as the Arca — by a company called Garden Hideouts.
For Andy, 59, who lives in the village of Bardsey to the north of Leeds, the benefit is knowing that his mother is not lonely.‘Where Mum used to live, she belonged to the Women’s Institute but talking to her she said her loneliness was about the day-to-day stuff, eating on her own at night and having no-one to chat to,’ he says.‘When I looked into it I realised that living alone can actually accelerate ageing.