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The Ideal Senior Housing Solution Could Be in your Own Back Yard

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The idea supposedly started with a Methodist minister in Virginia. After visiting a parishioner distraught over being forced into a nursing home, he decided America could do a better job helping seniors find alternative housing solutions. He consulted with a research center at Virginia Tech, and voila: the MEDCottage, also called the Granny Pod, was born. We first discovered this fascinating article on the website about a year ago, and since then media outlets all across the U.S. have reported on this new idea for housing Mom or Dad as they age.

You’ve probably heard of the concept. Instead of your folks being forced into institutional care, a growing number of seniors are instead moving into compact, specially-designed small houses that share property with their adult children. The Granny Pod phenomenon seems to be catching on. The company that claims to have started this idea is called MedCottage, and while their models are presently sold exclusively in Virginia, they do offer plans on their website. Local zoning can make it challenging to set one of these up on your lot, but nevertheless we think it’s a great idea, one that deserves to catch on nationwide.

What sets these units apart from the “tiny houses” that have gained attention in recent years is that they are specially designed for senior living. Features include lighted floorboards and a custom-fabricated soft floor to minimize injuries from falling. Some units even add defibrillators, blood pressure monitors, and interactive video systems.

There appears to be no question that alternative senior housing solutions will be required in the years ahead. The United States Census Bureau predicts that the number of seniors in America, estimated at 35 million in 2000, will double to 70 million by 2030. You may be among this growing legion of retirees seeking the ideal living solution best suited to their health, finances and family dynamics. An alternative, private living unit custom designed for the needs of seniors and installed on property shared with loved ones could be the perfect answer.

Obviously there are several considerations besides the zoning question we mentioned above. These units aren’t inexpensive, especially the high-tech units equipped with sensors and other amenities to keep the resident safe. Also, while building one of these units can be less costly in the long run than years of assisted living or nursing home care, your aging loved one may still require the assistance of an in-home aide which will certainly boost the costs. Still, if you decide to explore further, the SeniorCareAdvice article mentions companies that have gotten into the business of manufacturing these small custom living units, including at least one firm here in the Pacific Northwest. Since housing will be a primary consideration in your retirement years, you’ll want to explore all options. This article may provide helpful food for thought.

Housing, of course, is just one aspect of effective retirement planning. Deciding where you’ll want to live means you’ll need to take your health care needs into account. Obviously your financial resources (not to mention the need to protect your assets in retirement) will play a central role in your plan. It will also be imperative as you age to have all your legal affairs well taken care of, and it’s essential that you and your family members understand and support one another in this time of life since retirement is definitely a family affair. Is there an approach to retirement planning that blends all these elements into a single plan?

Fortunately the answer is yes. Here at AgingOptions, we stand ready to help you craft a retirement plan that will allow you to face the future with confidence, protecting your assets in retirement while helping you avoid becoming a burden to those you love. We call this type of plan a LifePlan. With your LifePlan in place, you’ll be able to combine your financial strategy, your healthcare needs, your legal preparations, your family relationships and your housing preferences into one comprehensive blueprint. Imagine the peace of mind that will provide!

To learn more about this unique approach to retirement planning, we invite you to attend a LifePlanning Seminar soon. These information-packed sessions are offered at no charge. You’ll be excited to learn how stress-free and how rewarding retirement planning can be when it’s done right! For dates, times and online reservations, without obligation, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website, or call us during the week and we’ll gladly answer your questions.

(Originally reported at

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