One of life's biggest challenges for the sandwich generation is finding a suitable place for an ailing mom and dad to live during their golden years. A nursing home may not be a good choice financially. At the same time, allowing an aging parent to live alone may cause anxiety and guilt for some families. Many adult children bring grandma or grandpa into their own homes, but it might not be a good fit for others based on logistics, care, and other issues.
Older adults relocating to be closer to relatives who don’t want to live in the same house may soon have another alternative: a "granny pod" or micro-house. These small homes are designed for accessibility but are compact enough to fit in a backyard plus they avoid what may be the higher cost of living than a traditional house requires.
For some, an elegant solution to myriad issues aging seniors that require some form of care is found in a 400-square-foot cottage that fits perfectly in their children's backyard. The house, designed by Oakland-based Inspired Independence, includes a living room, bedroom, and a galley kitchen. It comes with a walk-in shower and doorways and hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, if necessary.
An increasing number of companies are manufacturing modular dwellings that are specially designed for older people. Prices for the small houses vary, of course, based on the size and features. They can cost from less than $50,000 to almost $250,000.
For seniors considering the small dwelling as a retirement home, they should look for a design that includes certain essential features. These features include a bedroom on the main floor, full bath with a raised toilet, a walk-in shower, grab bars, as well as slip-resistant flooring.
Another important feature may be storage space, like drawers beneath beds and sofas that can be accessed without the use of a ladder. The house should also be constructed low to the ground, so there is no need for stairs.
One company, MEDCottages, has received some mixed reviews. Some have said the homes could cause problems with neighbors or be seen as putting an aging parent "in storage." However, others feel it's a practical luxury to have Mom close by in a cozy cottage.
Reference: AARP (September 11, 2017) “Granny Pods Are Becoming a Popular Housing Alternative”