MEDCottage, a tiny house designed for the elderly
What to do with an aging parent or grandparent who can no longer live independently? That question will be asked more frequently as the population ages. For some families, having granny move into the family home would be ideal. But what if you don’t have a spare room, all the bedrooms are upstairs, or your house was not designed for a person with limited mobility?
Granny might not like the idea either. Most people want to maintain a sense of independence for as long as possible. They might want to watch TV without worrying about disturbing others. They might prefer a quiet environment, difficult to achieve in a house shared with crying babies and screaming children. They might like more privacy. Or, they might fear being a nuisance to their families.
A Virginia company called N2Care has come up with an alternative, a tiny house temporarily placed in the family’s backyard. The MEDCottage isn’t an ordinary tiny house though; it is specifically designed to meet the needs of a senior citizen or disabled individual. This solution gives the elderly person her own separate little cottage, but puts it close enough that she can easily cross the yard for shared meals and companionship as the mood strikes her. Likewise, her family can check on her without having to drive across town, and the grandchildren can visit anytime. It does seem like it would work best for someone who is still reasonably independent but needs assistance with some tasks or is too forgetful to live without supervision.
The 288 ft2 (26.8 m2) cottage has a central bedroom/sitting room with a kitchenette and bathroom on either side. The bathroom is ADA-compliant with a curbless shower and a wheelchair-accessible sink, plus grab bars all around. Lighting incorporated into the baseboards highlights any objects on the floor, helping to prevent tripping.
A variety of optional safety and convenience features can be added, depending on the person’s needs. Over in the kitchenette, a pill dispenser reminds the resident take his medications on schedule. Cushioned flooring can be installed to prevent injuries. If granddad does fall, sensors can alert his caregivers, who can quickly check on him via cameras. There is somewhat of a Big Brother aspect to that, although the cameras are mounted at floor level so as not to intrude on the resident’s privacy more than necessary. If the resident becomes bedridden, a lift and track can be installed to help his caregiver move him from bed to bath and back.
What about zoning? Most towns don’t allow you to plop a second house down in your backyard, no matter how tiny a house it may be. The N2Care founders anticipated that problem and successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assembly to pass legislation that overrules all local zoning laws in the state. Under the rules, a “temporary family healthcare structure” of up to 300 ft2 (27.9 m2) can be placed on any single-family lot for use by a family member who is physically or mentally impaired, as certified by a doctor. The structure must be removed if the resident moves out, passes away or no longer requires care. That last part is a bit of a shame as accessory dwelling units have many uses and benefits besides elder care, but it’s better than nothing.
N2Care currently lists the base price of this MEDCottage model at $53,750. They offer two other models as well. More information can be found on the MEDCottage website.
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Photographs courtesy of MEDCottage. Via Little Things.
Text copyright 2015 SmallHouseBliss. All Rights Reserved.
Nice as this little home is, and it is. After being involved with taking care of my mother, I’ve noticed you are missing storage for towels, bedding and clothing. You can go through a good deal of bedding, towels and clothing in a single day. The utility closet is great, needed and would definitely be used constantly. With the humidity and heat generated the things listed before couldn’t share the space. You also need a locking secure safe place for medicines being used.
Why do so many small and tiny homes put the TV practically on the ceiling? That is not comfortable for anyone. It needs to be at a more normal level.
As mentioned storage seems to be a problem—especially for clothing. Some things could be put in the furniture at the end of the bed, but not very much.
Looking for prices to have a mother law house attached to main house must be at least 690 ft 2bed full kitchen plenty of storge
Has anyone ever considered SUING the code nazis (as I lovingly call them) to let all of us who have had a flag waved in our faces our whole lives and been told how ‘free’ we are, to overturn almost all codes except those relating to safety issues to allow people to live as they want to on their own land? Most of the codes (thousands of them!) negate the Constitution – ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…’ is the law of the land, and supercedes everything written afterwards except the Amendments. The truth of the matter is that the codes have been put in place to protect the illusion of property values (of the richest among us) and builder profits. I’m sure if the history on them was written, there would be a lot of graft and bribery involved. It’s quite easy for local code enforcement to be tantamount to harassment and yet these local officials are held harmless from overstepping their authority.
Yikes, who is the weird dude lurking at the bedroom window in the past photo? It gives me the creepsY
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Why is the bed in front of the door? It would give me the willies! No curtains for privacy!
I would like to know more about these little home I can give information how much they cost? that models are there? how much space do I need? what services I have to install to make it work?
Where do you store your clothing? This is a nice attempt at a assisted living quarters, but is lacking in some very fundamental necessities. The elderly still need solutions for storage. Trundle bed??? It’s a cute little home, but fails to address the basic needs of most people. Maybe drop some of the windows allowing for a wardrobe???
Very interested it this cottage for my mom. I need more information on this please.
I like to know the price of each and whether they do free delivery and site installation.