Small Spaces Open Doors to Independence

Baby Boomers Demand More Choices for Independent Lifestyle

Laura Ingalls wrote about her little house on the prairie.  Little girls decorate and furnish their little backyard play houses. Hunters and family vacationers spend their weekends sprucing up, fixing up and making their little retreat a home away from home.

We spend our childhoods building forts out of blankets and card tables or cast-off lumber among the tree tops.  We spend our adulthood retreating to cabins at the beach or in the woods.

There’s something intriguing about small spaces, especially small places we can call our own.

Maybe that’s the appeal of the sudden growth in backyard cottages, cabins on wheels, or temporary backyard structures that come equipped with everything from enhanced lighting to wheelchair accessibility.

Our eldercare studies and surveys tell us that the number one desire for seniors is to live at home and to live independently.  However, we know that lifestyles must be adapted as we age and the Baby Boomer population is forever rewriting society and community rules.

As Boomers, we witnessed the struggle that our parents and grandparents faced as they sought to maintain their independent lifestyle while being guided toward retirement homes, nursing homes and other homes that “weren’t quite home”.

The concept behind these cottages and self-contained apartments is that they can be tucked in behind an existing home or they can be integrated into a communal living area where each cottage occupant helps with the upkeep of a common area and skills are shared among the group.Today, our internet and senior publications are brimming with alternative solutions such a MEDCottages or “granny pods”, as they have been dubbed.  Several states have their own version of “Tiny Texas Houses”, mobile cottages crafted from reclaimed materials.

A start-up company is promoting a prefabricated, transportable, ADA-compliant and accessible bathroom.  This temporary structure is marketed toward multi-story homes that do not have ground floor bathrooms or the existing bathroom cannot accommodate a wheelchair.

Backyard cottages may offer at-home adaptations for accommodating an onsite family caregiver.  Or, a senior may wish to develop a more independent lifestyle by creating an self-contained home environment near an adult child.

Whatever the choices may be, more options are becoming available as our aging population demands more alternatives for senior living.