Are Granny Pods a Smart Alternative to Senior Living Communities?

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, granny pods are essentially small, portable guest houses with high-tech medical extras designed to be installed in a caregiver’s backyard and hooked up to the existing home’s sewer, water and electric. The original concept for granny pods, also known as MEDcottages, was developed by the Virginia-based company, N2Care. Perhaps spurred by the tiny house movement and the aging baby boomer population, granny pods have become the latest trend in elder care, but are they really a sensible alternative to senior living communities and assisted housing?

The Problem with Granny Pods

While many critics of the granny pod evolution refer to the units as mere storage containers for the elderly, there are actually some very real concerns about granny pods that are worth addressing.

Zoning laws and “not in my backyard” protests from neighbors, as well as possible misuse.

Woman with her hands under her chin smiling into the distanceNot all state zoning laws currently support granny pods, and the debate over allowing additional dwellings on single-family lots is heated. While granny pods might work in rural or sparsely developed areas, urban and suburban communities are concerned with overcrowding. Others warn that adding seniors and disabled residents will change the character of a neighborhood, increase traffic, and negatively affect property values.

Those states that have already passed legislation to permit the addition of a temporary health care structure behind an existing home, have also stated that a physician must document a medical need, which means granny pods are not a viable option for independent seniors – the group that would likely get the most benefit. Furthermore, opponents of granny pods are concerned that without proper enforcement, the temporary houses have the potential for misuse as inexpensive housing for other groups, such as families with adult children still living at home.

Technology is no replacement for the compassionate and highly-skilled professionals at a senior living community.

If you don’t have the time or specialized skills to care for your aging parent or loved one, moving them into your backyard is not necessarily a smart or safe alternative to an Enriched Housing/ Assisted Living Community. If your loved one has become dependent on you for daily activities, including bathing, it may be physically more than you can safely handle. This is especially true if your loved one is experiencing signs of dementia.

Unlike granny pods, Enriched Housing/ Assisted Living Communities have staff specially trained to care for the aging population. In addition to 24-hour care and assistance with daily tasks, memory care communities provide activities designed to support socialization and stimulate cognitive abilities, and they are secured to prevent wandering.

Seniors who live alone or are unable to get out and socialize with others their age may become depressed.

Social interaction is key in the prevention and treatment of mental decline and depression with aging. While you might think that living across the lawn will make your aging parents or loved one feel connected, seniors who live alone in a granny pod may end up feeling more isolated and depressed. Research has found that seniors who are unable to get out and socialize with others their age, and fearful of being a burden on their busy family, will suffer symptoms of depression. Estimates indicate that around 7 million people over the age of 65 will suffer from symptoms of depression. After age 71, one out of every seven people in America will suffer from dementia. Both of these problems are reduced significantly for those seniors who have regular, consistent contact with other people.

One of the many benefits of senior living, which is missing in a granny pod, is the sense of community and the social interaction between residents. In addition, many Enriched Housing/ Assisted Living Communities offer routine physical activity and exercise through fully equipped fitness centers and/or regularly scheduled exercise classes, as well as wellness programs that provide social, cultural and educational activities for seniors.

The Benefit of Senior Living Communities

While granny pods allow you to keep your loved ones close, they are not necessarily the smartest or safest option for aging seniors. It is important to discuss the pros and cons with your loved one and take into consideration their particular needs and your circumstances.

Senior living communities offer aging adults the same option to downsize their living space, but with many benefits that granny pods do not have. In fact, the one-bedroom apartments at the Eddy Senior Living communities are comparable to the square footage of a granny pod, complete with grab bars, handrails and a call button, but with the added benefit of compassionate, 24-hour assistance, and the opportunity for social interaction and carefully planned physical exercise.

To learn more about the Eddy Senior Living Independent Living Communities, Enriched Housing & Assisted Living options and Memory Care housing throughout the Albany area and Queensbury NY, call (518) 280-8385 to speak with a senior living specialist.