Old Folks at Home: Introducing the MedCottage

Grandma’s coming back. It’s a trend to watch: older folks coming to live with their adult kids. Better medical science means people are living longer and better, but maybe not quite well enough to shovel their own snow or mow their own lawns. The high cost of assisted-living facilities can be daunting, and let’s face it — Grandma might prefer to be around her family. (Not to mention that, thanks to global warming, there simply aren’t that many ice floes available.)

The New York Times has a piece on how that trend is affecting home builders, who are building and marketing more homes that include a separate apartment — a mother-in-law apartment or “granny pad.”

Pulte, the largest homebuilder in the country, says that 30 percent of its customers are asking for one. Not always for a grandparent, of course — job-hunting 20-somethings are also moving back.

And then there’s the granny pod — the MedCottage (which we’ve written about before). It’s a trailer-sized medically equipped apartment that Virginia law allows on residential property.

MedCottages let grandparents — they must be physically or mentally impaired — have a place to call their own that’s a stone’s throw (figuratively, one hopes) from the kids. It can be equipped with various monitoring devices to help make sure granny is safe, but it also gives her a feeling of privacy and self-sufficiency.

A Fairfax county family is the first in the state to have one, and the Washington Post has a great story about them.

Besides dedicated spaces like granny pad and granny pods, a related trend is the multi-use room — a space that can be a playroom for the kids, or easily converted into a bedroom for the grandfolks… or an office for a work-at-home adult.

Will this be a longer-term trend, or is this simply a result of the economy? Considering the state of medical science, I would bet that we’re going to be seeing more ways to keep grandma close by.




Realtor with Greg Garrett Realty, actively licensed in the state of Virginia

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