Louise Bardswich was in her late 50s and searching for a new retirement home for her mother when she realized living in any type of care facility would never be for her.

The issues that arise from such a living situation — the lack of freedom, having to leave the comfort of your own home, and the loneliness, among others — didn’t appeal to her at all. Assisted living worked well for her mother, who liked it, but Bardswich knew it didn’t fit her own lifestyle. Plus, “she had more money than me,” says Bardswich, of Ontario, Canada.

Instead, Bardswich embraced an unconventional housing arrangement in her later years.

That take-charge attitude prompted the purchase and renovation of the residential home she now owns with three other retirees…With the help of a local builder who specializes in designing homes for older adults, they built their own version of a retirement paradise. They designed the property — a 6-bedroom, wheelchair-accessible 5,000 sq.-foot farmhouse — to allow them to remain independent and still enjoy the benefits of companionship and the security of knowing they can stay there forever, barring any unexpected changes to their lifestyle or health status.

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