If you’ve flipped through HGTV, TLC, home magazines and a host of other content channels recently, you’ve no doubt heard about the burgeoning tiny house movement. More than just a petite dwelling, tiny living is a less-is-more lifestyle philosophy that embraces downsizing, simplicity, sustainability and affordability.
In a backlash to the McMansions of yore, many people who aspire to have, quite literally, a smaller footprint on the planet are attracted to mini-homes as an alternative. These small scale homes range in size from around 80 to 400 square feet. The concept is particularly popular with young adults, couples or families who prefer to invest in experiences rather than material possessions. Some are attracted to tiny living because they want flexibility, mobility or to live off the grid, not to mention the freedom from being saddled with an albatross of a mortgage. Tiny living is not for everyone, but for those who don’t measure their self-worth by their square footage, it is a compelling option.
More and more older adults are considering tiny houses as a solution for their senior years. You may not have considered it before, but read on to find out why it could be a viable living arrangement for you, your aging parents or an elderly loved one.
As the population grows older, and with all the health and financial issues that come with that, caring for the elderly is becoming a critical challenge across the globe. Retirement communities, assisted living facilities, senior apartments and nursing homes can’t keep up with the demand, and on the flip side, many seniors can’t afford them even if they could secure a spot.
This leaves many families having to take in their senior family members to live with them. This can be mutually beneficial situation if everybody gets along, and there is sufficient space and amenities in the house for multigenerational cohabitation. However, it can also be a bit of a burden to the “sandwich generation” who has to simultaneously cater to the demands of young children and older relatives. Likewise, the seniors might be put off with the mess and noise of 24/7 youngsters underfoot. It works for many, but not all.
In the right setting and circumstance, a tiny house might be just what all parties need.
A tiny home on or near the family property gives everyone more privacy and independence while allowing some peace of mind that you’re not far away should help be required.
If you are going to build a custom tiny house or prefabricated auxiliary dwelling unit (AUD) for an older adult, certain design factors and features should be considered, such as:
- a ground floor bedroom, as ladders or stairs up to a loft might be a challenge
- a kitchenette, bathroom, and bed/sitting area are the bare minimum requirements
- slip-resistant floors
- adequate lighting, preferably motion sensored
- soft flooring to offer some protection from falls
- wide doorways in case walkers or wheelchairs are in your future
- video monitors, life alerts and/or intercoms in case of emergency
- hand rails, grab bars and other safety devices throughout, especially in the bathroom and kitchen
Look into Granny Pods, Elder Cottages or MED Cottages if you want a living solution specifically designed for an elderly resident with increasing medical needs. Prices start around the $50,00 to $125,000 mark, which may seem steep, but that’s the cost of just a year or two in a long-term care facility these days. Of course, that price can go up or down depending on the materials used, floor plan chosen and amenities required. There is something for every price point.
Some of these types of compact abodes are portable, so you’re not locked into one fixed location. Perhaps you can share mom among the siblings, or relocate dad depending on the season. Down the road, the tiny house can be converted to a she shed, man cave, artist’s studio, meditation space, office or teen hang out. The flexibility and adaptability is part of the appeal.
Check with zoning permits to see if it is possible to put a tiny home, casita or modular AUD in your back yard or on your property.
The main benefit of a backyard tiny house senior living arrangement is that you’ll have your aging loved one(s) close by. You will be able to monitor their health and safety plus offer ready companionship so they don’t succumb to social isolation. They get to enjoy some privacy and independence, with the peace of mind knowing someone is nearby to help out when needed.