Tiny Homes for Seniors: Meeting Healthcare Needs (pt 2 of 3)
In our last Blog (part 1 of 3), we explored the idea of Tiny Homes for Seniors as an alternative to the current traditional models of elderly care. In part 2 of this 3 part series we take a closer look at exactly what would be required to ensure that Health Care needs are met if individuals and families are considering this.
Seniors care is unlike short-term care, like after an illness or a surgery for example. When looking after seniors, long-term medical care including Doctors visits, tests, administering and monitoring medication, surgeries and more are all part of the ongoing regime required. If there are complications such as Alzheimer’s or dementia those are factored in as well. So when looking at options such as Tiny House living for yourself or your loved one, these are the things most people want to know right away:
- How can medical equipment be incorporated into the Tiny House?
- Would a wheelchair fit into the tiny house? It seems too small.
- Are these small spaces comfortable for seniors who are used to traditional housing?
- How much do these homes cost, and who is making them?
Let’s explore some solutions, because not only do we want better quality care for our loved ones- affordable Seniors Housing is also becoming a crisis:
Statistics Canada released population figures showing Canada’s seniors population has edged out the number of children under 15. The report indicates Canada’s aging population is changing the face of communities across the country and close to 700,000 households led by seniors face a challenge with housing affordability.
“A combination of modest incomes and high living costs mean that almost one in four senior-led households are spending 30 per cent more of their income on shelter,” the report states. The findings also detail how significant groups of seniors remain economically vulnerable. The FCM says part of the solution is to provide housing options for seniors by building and expanding existing programs to confront issues such as the growing number of seniors on social housing wait lists. “We know that the situation is getting worse, housing affordability in general is becoming more and more challenging.”
Fully Equipped Pre-Fab Tiny House For Seniors
The MEDCottage, supports the idea of family-managed healthcare with it’s mobile, modular medical home designed to be temporarily placed on a caregiver’s property for rehabilitation and extended care. It is like 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. The inside maintains a comfortable home, using the space efficiently to create sleeping, living and bathing areas. Equipped with the latest technical advances in the industry, MEDCottage was made to assist with many caregiving duties. Using smart robotic features, it can monitor vital signs, filter the air for contaminants, and communicate with the outside world very easily. Sensors alert caregivers to problems and medication reminders are provided via computers. Sensors alert caregivers to an occupant’s fall, and a computer can remind the occupant to take medications. MedCottage also contains a family communication center that provides telemetry, environmental control and dynamic interaction to off-site caregivers through smart and robotic technology throughout the charming, comfortable modular home. In each backyard home, electricity and water are connected directly to the homeowner’s utilities. There are also webcams installed around the home, so families can ensure the resident is safe and well cared for.
Ranging from 299-655 sq ft, prices range from $39,625 -$61,125 USD.
Pre-Fab without Medical Technology
Placed in the side or rear yard of the family home, the Elder Cottage extends the warmth and inclusion of your family to an aesthetically pleasing, self-contained, and energy efficient dwelling. Several Elder Cottages have been designed to be attached right onto the existing house becoming an instant home addition. Cases have occurred when a zoning board would not allow a secondary dwelling to stand alone next to the main house. They also
• Easy navigation created with physical challenges in mind.
• Wheelchair access through all doorways
• Kitchen and bath may be tailored for wheelchair access
• Elevated toilets
• Reinforcing behind bathroom walls for optional grab bars
Canadian Portable Structures
Offering the “Granny Flat” which has everything you need except the medical technology. Comes with a spacious living room, a full sized kitchen, master bedroom and a well-planned bathroom. Granny Flats come complete with a bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets and your choice of interior and exterior finishes. The Company offers many options that you can add to your granny flat.
The Magnolia- For People with Disabilities
This traditional THOW can be designed to be fully handicap accessible, with room for one or two people. Perfect for taking care of an older relative or aging in place. (website)
Next Door Housing
This American Company offers Sales or Rentals of their mobile Tiny House for seniors, with monthly rentals at $1250.00. They will also connect you with local area service providers for additional health care support. The homes are secure with a functional environment designed by certified aging in place specialists. Each universally designed Drop Home features fully accessible facilities to ensure safety and comfort. They are dropped off on location.
Traditional Tiny House Living for Seniors
There are also plenty of older people out there already living the dream in what we would consider a THOW.
Dani is a self-described “almost 60 year old, who uses a mobility scooter, wears a leg brace and loves to read.” Not long ago, she moved her mother from the home she had lived in for twenty-three years into an apartment. Sorting through all of her mother’s belongings made her think of her own daughter. She didn’t want her to have to go through the same thing, so she decided to look into tiny living. It was that research that led her to choosing the lifestyle for herself. Dani built a tiny house with a wheelchair ramp and a 6-foot porch for her scooter. You can follow her adventure in her blog “The House That Gramma Built”
There are many other seniors who are choosing to live in a traditional THOW and they are loving it! If you plan to build or purchase a Tiny House, make sure that you consider these things:
Be Sure to Install a full-sized shower
Not only do seniors want to be more comfortable, but they also require more space in the shower especially. Also consider installing a hand rail or a fold-away shower seat.
Don’t Use Ladders
Ladders don’t work for fragile bones and safety. Do not include them when designing a tiny house for seniors. There are plenty of safe and easy stair options that you can use instead- and make sure to add railings for that additional support.
One Level Only, Low to the Ground, Install a Ramp
For mobility reasons, keep things as simple as possible. Again be sure to include a handrail on the ramp.
Be sure that you design carefully- use fold-down worktops, tables, and seats. In doing so you create more empty space, allowong for wheelchair users’ turning circles. Doorway’s will need to be at least 32 inches wide. Install sliding doors to provide even more room and ease.
Reduce the Risk of Falls
Install handrails where there is nothing secure to hold on to. Include a non-slip floor. Also install plenty of lights. Windows help with lighting as well. Keep the floor clear of anything that can obstruct the path like rugs.
Accessible Storage Spaces
Think very carefully about the types of storage you incorporate into your tiny house for seniors. For example, seniors may not be able to reach storage space that are above the head. Strength and mobility can prove challenging, so be mindful of how you design large cabinets and cupboards. Include easy-to-use and lower-level storage space.
The Family Connection
There are so many reasons to have a Seniors Tiny House close to family- safety, quality time, monitoring of health, wellness, meals together and more.
Select a Pre-Fab Tiny House
If you want to have someone else handle the planning, check out the pre-fab homes we’ve listed above.
There ARE so many ways that we can address the Seniors Housing and Health Crises that loom at our door, and we sincerely hope that this information reassures you that there are options for you! We strongly suggest that you talk with your aging parents, your partner or consider these options for yourself. Share the idea with your community for feedback and to spread this important concept.