Trend Watch: What is a Granny Pod?What is a Granny Pod

The so-called “tiny living” movement is a trend gaining popularity around the world, as more and more people are embracing a downsized lifestyle to gain the benefits of financial freedom and ease of living. Homes that are 75% smaller than the average American home can now be designed to make the most of every square inch, and many are surprised at how much simpler and affordable life can be in a tiny home.

A perfection implementation of tiny living can be seen in the growing popularity of families choosing to install a small, stand-alone unit for a senior loved one. The idea is to maintain the senior’s sense of independence and privacy, while having family members close by to help offer care as needed. Nicknamed the “Granny Pod,” these typically pre-fabricated units can be added to the backyard of a family’s home, ready to move in.

One company out of Virginia is taking the concept several steps further by offering innovative modular housing units customized specifically to assist aging in place for seniors. MEDCottage’s high-tech housing units resemble small, stylish cottages and hook up directly to the homeowner’s electricity and water. The self-contained unit (there are three options ranging in size from 300 square feet to 600 square feet) includes the amenities of a full-featured apartment, like a refrigerator, microwave, and seating areas. Larger floorplans include a separate living room area and dining area, while the smaller plans resemble a layout similar to an efficiency apartment.

But what sets MEDCottage units apart is the long list of high-tech safety features built into their cottages. For example, the attractive hardwood-esque floor is actually padded to help lessen the impact of a fall. The kitchen includes a medication dispenser to help ensure seniors get the right doses at the right times, and an discreet ceiling rail system can be added in areas where a lift device might be used, like the bed or bathroom.

The bathroom itself is spacious and fully wheelchair accessible, with built-in benches and no steps to climb over. The entire unit includes a filtered air system, and there are short-term accommodations for in-home caregivers as well. Finally, the Granny Pod’s high-tech “family communication center” provides wireless data transmission for environmental control, vital sign monitoring, and dynamic interaction for off-site caregivers.

The idea of having a senior loved one close by in an attractive, comfortable apartment seems to benefit all involved, allowing everyone a sense of space and privacy for as long as desired. And with prices ranging from around $40,000 to $60,000, many families are seeing Granny Pods as an affordable option as well, when compared to other health care options over several years.

Megan Hammons lives in the Central Texas countryside just outside of Austin, pursuing her love for copywriting after a career in high-tech marketing. She is part of a large, diverse family and enjoys spending time with the multiple generations living in her community.

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