My only memory of a great-grandmother on my mother’s side is of her home; a small, silver, drag-behind camper. It was parked about 50 yards from my mother’s childhood home. My mom was the oldest of 9 and I loved going to visit her family in the wooded acreage deep in the Missouri Ozarks. We (my twin aunts who were a year younger than me, a cousin and my siblings) were a noisy, wild and crazy bunch that ran around, exploring and climbing trees. I can understand why my great-grandmother would want a place of her own with all the chaos that took place in the main house.
I stumbled across an article (https://seniorcareadvice.com/my-mother-lives-in-the-backyard-the-granny-pod-evolution.htm) addressing the looming problem of how to care for America’s rapidly aging population. The “Granny Pod” is a pre-fabricated and pre-equipped medical cottage that can be parked in the backyard of a caregiver’s home…assuming the zoning laws permit it. This tiny house is then hooked to the existing sewer, water and power lines.
I need to point out that the article describes one particular “granny pod” product, and is not a comprehensive non-commercial overview of everything available on the market. Even so, it provides great insight into new types of options that are arising as families seek the best environment for aging family members. The homes described in the article cost up to $125,000 installed, complete with all things needed to age in place, including interactive video and devices that monitor vital signs and transmit real time readings to caregivers and physicians. Cameras and sensors alert caregivers to any falls, the toilet seat records weight and temperature, a hammock-like chairlift transports a resident from bed-to-bathroom, and a computer reminds residents when it is time to take medications.
The 12’ x 24’ bungalows resemble a hotel suite with living space, small kitchen and bathroom. The initial cost may seem steep, but compared to nursing home care (which can be more than $50,000 a year for a semi-private room) it will not take long to recoup the cost. What’s more, this particular company will buy back the unit when it is no longer needed. These units offer older adults some independence and closeness to family and friends instead of isolation in a distant nursing home.
It looks like my great-grandma was ahead of her time living in a Granny Pod/camper. Unlike the Tiny Houses I talked about on 12/8/15, I could see myself living out my final years in one of these. The question is…which of my kids won’t find this too close for comfort?