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'Granny pods' let your aging parents live in your backyard, keeping them closer and safer

The Granny Pod, aka the MEDCottage or in-law cottage, is a tiny home-cum-portable hospital room, that is advertised as an affordable alternative to nursing homes.

'Granny pods' let your aging parents live in your backyard, keeping them closer and safer

There comes a point in all our lives when we find ourselves switching roles with our parents. With their age and health concerns increasing with every passing year, the caregiving tables turn to make us in charge of their wellbeing. However, finding affordable accommodation with necessary medical aid access for them to live out the rest of their days in comfort is practically an impossible task for many of us.

Nursing homes aren't a feasible option for many from a financial standpoint and the guilt and anxiety that come with the idea of putting a parent away in such facilities only makes the situation harder. While the ideal scenario is, of course, accommodating them in our own homes, not everyone has the necessary space for it. This is where the Granny Pod comes in.

Representative Image Source: Getty Images

Essentially the Granny Pod, aka the MEDCottage or in-law cottage, is a tiny home-cum-portable hospital room designed by a Blacksburg-based company with the help of Virginia Tech. Advertised as an affordable alternative to nursing homes, they are designed to be installed in your backyard. According to a report by Country Living, the pre-fabricated MEDCottages can also be thought of as guest houses with a number of high-tech medical attachments.


According to the official MEDCottage website, these units are "a mobile, modular medical dwelling designed to be temporarily placed on a caregiver's property for rehabilitation and extended care. Simply stated, it's a state-of-the-art hospital room with remote monitoring available so caregivers and family members have peace of mind knowing they are providing the best possible care. Close proximity is so important when keeping family engaged in our life. This solution provides a beautiful dwelling close to the people we love."


Each MEDCottage is said to come with enough room for a bed, living room space, bathroom, and a kitchenette, as well as, a set of standard safety features such as hand railings, defibrillators, lighted floorboards, first aid supplies, and a soft floor to minimize any harm that could be caused by falls. Despite housing so many facilities, the Granny Pods do not take up much space because they are the size of a master bedroom at about 12 by 24 feet. Furthermore, the structures feature double French doors and the facility to accommodate a wheelchair and necessary hospital equipment if the need arises.


The MEDCottage comes in three variations: the LivingROO, MotherShip, and the MEDCottage Classic Redesign. The LivingROO comes as a kit that the homeowner can assemble themselves and is designed to fit inside a two-bay garage space. They have HD monitor windows connected to a corresponding HD camera outside to create the illusion of seeing out so that occupants don't feel claustrophobic inside the garage space. The MotherShip or the Rehabilitation Pod is the ideal option for those concerned about zoning laws as they are designed on an RV platform, which the company claims "can be placed in ninety percent of the municipalities in the US."


As for the MEDCottage Classic Redesign, it is designed similar to the original houses but comes as kits which need to be assembled. Coming to the topic of whether these pods are legal, the AARP states that the MEDCottage falls under the ADU (accessory dwelling units) category. As these units are hooked up to the main home's existing sewer, water, and power lines; those considering this option will need approval from the local agencies in charge of these three basic necessities. You will also need to check zoning laws in your area as they might have mandates on the amount of land that can be taken up by such structures.


It is also worth mentioning that the Granny Pods do not come cheap. Speaking to CNBC, financial planner Carolyn McClanahan said, "If people can age in place and age at home it’s much healthier, and the family is happier, but it can be very expensive. Granny pods can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000. So you got to weigh longevity in there with it." On the other hand, these pods do make financial sense in the long run when compared to the cost of assisted living care. 


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