I regularly receive comments regarding how small a particular apartment is, or how difficult it will be to downsize. I discuss in a previous post how I discovered first-hand how challenging the downsizing process can be, but more importantly I pondered if I am (and our society in general) living too large.
This article in the recent issue of Time, addresses some cultural issues and trends associated with the size of our dwellings that is very relevant. However, I was a bit surprised that there was no mention of eldercare as an appropriate way to “reinvent the McMansion.”
These larger homes can accommodate our elderly family members (and help with mortgage payments) and bring families back together. In many parts of the country there are already extensive inventories of licensed assisted living in single family neighborhood homes.
If these are trends of the future, hopefully it will spawn more renovations utilizing the principals of Universal Design. In the Mid-Atlantic, “McMansions” are notorious for having tons of steps or “barriers”, all bedrooms on upper levels, and lack of accessible floor plans. These features make life more difficult than it needs to be for all of us no matter what our age/ability. They can make life impossible for someone with mobility issues.
Another demographic trend is the rise of the “Boomerang Generation”, adult children returning to the nest. What if “Boomerangers” helped to create intergenerational solutions by living with elders in these McMansions? Group homes for 20 somethings AND 80 somethings!
However, I tend to agree with the author of the Time article who states, “Finding new, creative uses for McMansions is a start, but the ultimate goal may be to design neighborhoods in which such large houses wouldn’t make sense in the first place.”