Park Granny In The Backyard - In A Granny Pod!

When your parents or another beloved relative starts getting to that point where they really shouldn't be all alone at home away from family, but they aren't quite ready for a nursing home or even assisted living, what do you do?  Many people choose to have elderly family members move in with them but this is not always a good or even workable option.  Maybe you don't have the space.  Maybe you do, but you and the elderly relatives really value your privacy and sense of independent living space. You'd like to be close-er, just not on top of each other. Z-Mom has said to me a zillion times, "I don't want to live with one of my children.  That's not good for the marriage."

What to do?  Well, we already make use of U-Store-It places for all our extra stuff that just doesn't fit in the house.  Take that concept, bring it into the back yard, add some electricity, running water, and monitoring systems, and you've got Granny Pods!

Seriously.  Developed by Rev. Kenneth Dupin in Virginia and more properly called the MEDcottage, it fits in your backyard, assuming your backyard is big enough.  And that you've got one.  And can afford it. Tiny House Blog has a nice cutaway schematic of the layout, and a link to a longer WaPo article.  Interesting comment thread on the THB post.  Apparently these would rent for $2k per month which is less than many assisted living homes.  The design presented here may not be the optimal one (see the comment thread at THB for criticisms) but this does present an alternative for our aging population.  Not everyone who owns a house can or would want to redo it for elderly living, or buy a house with an in-law suite.  The pod solution is temporary, available for the time needed, and then removed when the elderly person passes on or moves to nursing care.  Clearly this is a solution for suburban/rural lifestyles, and will not help people in the cities with aging relatives.  Or anybody whose problem is fundamentally one of scarce resources to begin with.

You know, looking at the Granny Pod, I'm thinking, why not just get a nice piece of land suitable for gardening and plunk down a Granny Pod on it.  Then I can age in place quite nicely. I don't know where all the books and Mr. Z's music and taper gear would go.  Maybe we could get an Arts & Humanities Pod Annex next door.

I'm filing this one under both Geekalicious AND Technology Gone Bad because I'm just not sure yet...it's still an individualized solution to a societal issue.

UPDATE:  Ha.  Now that I've had a chance to read the WaPo article I see that snooty-ass Fairfax County (VA) Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee) feels the MEDcottages are okay for them rural folk who don't have any standards, but not for us fine city folk with all our zoning and whatnot.  Appearances must be kept up.  Off to the nursing home, Granny!!!!

8 responses so far

  • peggy says:

    I do like the idea of an easy-to-add mother-in-law apartment (which may or may not be a better term than "granny pod"), but this seems really expensive.

    Where I live out in the burbs you can rent an entire house with a yard for less than $2k per month. I was under the impression that a significant portion of the cost of assisted living arrangements is the "assistance" part - having a staff available, which, of course, this doesn't come with. It doesn't even appear to have space for an assistant or family member to help out.

    • zuska says:

      Supposedly there is room for an extra cot or murphy type bed in the living/bed area. The high tech/monitoring aspect of the house is supposed to substitute for some of what you get in assisted living. Looking at some of what this small house would offer - if it really functions that way - and considering how much of the time my mother is alone in her room at the assisted living home, this may not be a bad solution for someone who still has some mobility and not much mental impairment.

      For someone who truly needs assistance all the time with toileting, who cannot get out of bed unassisted, and/or who has really advanced dementia, this would not be a good option. But I think my mother could live in one of these. For our family, it would not help, as putting it in any of our yards would mean moving her away from her doctors and from the community she is attached to, and from the people who now can still come to visit her at the AL home. Also, the cost is about what we pay for her AL home (where she lives, everything costs a lot less than average), and for that amount we do get staff who are checking on her or are available to her round the clock, who monitor and give her her meds, who make her food, who clean her room and do her laundry, and she is able to take part in social activities. Every solution has trade-offs. She would rather be at home, but she is safer, moves around more, and interacts with more people at the AL home.

  • Coturnix says:

    I was listening to this story on NPR in the car today and I also had mixed feelings about it. Glad to see your perspective on this as well. More food for thought...

  • Katherine says:

    We already have the term "granny flat", but it usually refers to a more permanent structure. Interesting.

  • DRK says:

    With all the foreclosures on mobile homes, maybe it would be a better deal to just get one of those for your mom or dad, and retrofit the medical bells and whistles. Although, now, suddenly, the idea of having a neighbor with one of these in their back yard seems less appealing, frankly. It is heartless but I can see why people might object to Granny Pods. If the person needs care, the way this was traditionally dealt with is by living with a son or daughter. Basically, it seems like you are sacrificing your neighbor's property values so your parent can have an illusion of independence.

    If your lot was big enough, which is to say an acre or two, than sure, why not? But on smaller lots, this would not be the greatest solution. If they implement these pods on a wider basis, I hope they zone very carefully.

  • Becky says:

    ...for mothers of teenagers... mommy pods... they could come complete with one purring cat, half a dozen lovely pillows, a selection chocolates, sweet tea and a gentle fall breeze... one can dream...

  • Jenny Evans says:

    Please send info.