Granny pods according to the Washington Post, are a new option for senior housing and they go in your backyard. So what are they, and no they're not at all like storage pods … and they are a lot like tiny houses.
Granny pods are high-tech housing modules that enable families to keep older members of their family at home, seniors who don't want to go into a nursing home and don't want to be a burden to their families. These manufactured pods can be placed in your backyard, allowing family members to monitor their elders while they live in their own space. Rather than having to retrofit your home for wheelchairs and more, you can now install a granny pod in your backyard.
These new options allow seniors to remain with their families, in the community where they're comfortable. That's what 88% of those over 65 want according to a AARP survey. This article explores granny pods. Another article introduces houses designed and built for 2 families, like Lennar's multi-generation homes called NextGen.
This is just the beginning of the baby boomers retiring, so we can expect more choices as the over 65 population grows.
Senior Housing: Your Home or A Granny Pod?
For years we've had “in-law apartments” for aging parents, young adults not ready to leave home and sometimes extra rental income. Often these apartments were created by finishing a basement with a bedroom, private bathroom and kitchenette. While separating living spaces by floors provides some privacy, it also adds the challenge of climbing stairs and that doesn't always work.
With my handyman business, we often got involved in smaller home renovations to support a new family member. One couple in Seabrook, NH bought their home because there was a basement apartment for their elderly parents. Just a month after they moved in, they started exploring alternatives that didn't require stairs. We converted their family room into a bedroom suite by turning a half wall into a full wall with built in storage plus French doors for privacy.
Granny pods enable you to add senior housing space that's temporary. The pod sits in your backyard providing many health related features that are rarely part of home renovations. When no longer needed, pods are portable and easily moved from your home to another property.
Features Found in Granny Pods
MED Cottage calls their granny pods “… A safe and affordable alternative to nursing homes. On the outside, you see a charming, modular home that can easily be placed on a homeowner's property. The inside maintains a comfortable home … made to assist with many care-giving duties.” Some of these features you'll recognize while others make granny pods more attractive than a nursing home or hospital environment.
- Kitchens in granny pods have a small refrigerator, microwave and medication dispenser.
- Bathroom is handicapped accessible, i.e. grab bars.
- Small washer/dryer combo provides more convenience than independent living facilities.
- Granny pod bedrooms have a runway mat from the bed to the toilet, that lights up automatically when stepped on.
- Ceiling tracks have trapeze hooks giving extra support when needed.
- Technology in granny pods monitor vital signs, provide medication reminders and alert caregivers to problems.
- Electrical and water connections connect to the main house utilities.
Benefits of Granny Pods
More and more families will be making tough decisions about how to care for aging parents. Here are the benefits of granny pods to consider when making your decision.
- Seniors remain in the community, close to family and friends where they're more comfortable.
- Granny pods give seniors more independence while providing separation from the primary home, and more privacy for everyone.
- There's less stress on the supporting family who doesn't have to live with “grandma” underfoot in the dining room converted to a bedroom.
- Granny pods can be more affordable when compared to nursing homes which aren't covered by Medicare. A new granny pod costs about $85,000 (closet to $125,000 installed) and you can sell the unit back to the manufacturer after 2 years, for $38,000. Compared to nursing home costs that start around $5,000 per month (and may approach $10,000/mo in areas like New York City), you'll start saving money in year 2 or 3, even after adding in the cost of hiring a health care aide (approximately $19/hr) for several hours a day.
Beyond the challenge of selling this concept to your family and parents, zoning rules in some states will not allow granny pods. Fortunately a Virginia state law recognizes them as “temporary family health-care structures” with the stipulation that once the health care needs go away the structure needs to be removed.