The decision to have one of your family members stay with you can be a tough one. But in today’s social and economic climate, it’s often the best choice. Multi-generational living is proving itself to be popular, with adult children moving back in with their parents and grandparents finding retirement to be easier closer to home.

That being said, the traditional single-family home isn’t always sufficient for the entire family.

Enter the mother-in-law suite. Despite the name, this addition to your home can serve as a comfortable and private space for any member of the family! Fathers-in-law included. 

But what should you include in that space? Will they need their own kitchen? A separate bathroom? Here are the essentials to consider for your new mother-in-law suite. 

Functional Design

Whether adding a room or renovating, every good project starts with a good floor plan. Consider the size of the space you’ll be working with; a basement will give you more leeway than a garage for example. The last thing you want is to make a plan for a two-story detached living space and realize you hardly have room for an extra sink.  

Also, think about whether your existing layout can offer something to the new room. Is there a half-bath downstairs that’s free to upgrade? Do you already have an attached porch? 

Try to utilize what you already have to save money and time. 

A Cozy Kitchen

If your aging loved one is able to prepare their own meals, giving them the ability to do so will help bolster their sense of independence. If they are wheelchair-bound, adding a collapsible sink basin will strengthen that independence all the more. 

Be sure to design the sink, fridge, and counters so that movement is easy between them. Having a spacious kitchen with a walk-in pantry would be amazing, but difficult to traverse. Be sure to assess your own family member’s independence and mobility, and go from there. 

Comfort of Home

When transitioning to in-home care, a bit of familiarity can help smooth the way. Talk with your parent or loved one and ask what personal touches they’d like to add. Some might have a sentimental collection of records, while some might want to haul in the grand piano that’s been passed down through the family for generations. 

Find out what they treasure and value, and add that (or elements of it) to your mother-in-law suite plans. 

Technology for Seniors

With everyone connecting via Facetime and Zoom, having a technological link to the outside world is essential for your aging family member. In addition to a dedicated computer nook, consider other technological advances that can assist someone aging in place. 

Security monitoring systems can place a sensor on pill bottles to see if they’ve been opened. They can also prevent wandering by alerting the rest of the family if the back door has been opened. 

Building Your Mother-In-Law Suite

When considering how best to help your older family retain their independence while still being surrounded by safety and support, it’s essential to take into account their individual wants and needs. Incorporate who they are as a person and try to create a wholly separate living space, functioning within a shared space. 

If you’re still looking for guidance on how to build your new mother-in-law suite, or advice about caregiving, be sure to browse our library.