My main and original Amish friends recently purchased a Dawdi Haus. Most times, however, a Dawdi Haus is built, not bought.
What is a Dawdi Haus? It’s a retirement home. In the Amish culture, one of the sons, usually the youngest, gets the farm. If the youngest is in another line of business, another son gets the farm—or even a daughter and her husband. In one Amish family I know, the oldest son ended up with the family farm, so there’s some flexibility there. But traditionally, it’s the youngest son.
It’s a great system, if you think about it… By the time the youngest son marries, probably in his early or mid twenties, the parents are most likely in their sixties. So the son and his wife take over the farm, and the parents move into the Dawdi Haus (Grandparent House). Normally this is a second, separate home on the same property as the farm. Sometimes it’s connected by a breezeway, but each family unit has their privacy, and each woman has her own kitchen. (Even the Amish believe my father’s old saying, apparently—“Two women can’t live under the same roof.”)
Since the Amish don’t take Social Security payments, it’s the children’s job to care for their aging parents, and this system makes it easier. Help and assistance is close at hand, and loneliness—the bane of the widowed retiree—is kept at bay. The newly retired grandparents can do as much or as little farm work as they choose to do, and as health allows. The grandfather can still help out on the farm, and the grandmother can help with the cooking, grandchildren, or whatever she wants. They are included in family and social gatherings and never feel like they’ve been left behind. They have their privacy, and their own home, but family is nearby in case of trouble, and they can be properly looked after as they get older. It’s a tradition that works well.
Anyway… My main and original friends recently purchased a Dawdi Haus—as opposed to building one on their farm. More about that in Part Two.