Another lifestyle trend is on the rise and they call it the granny pod. It’s supposedly the next best thing in senior care, where you have a tiny home built in the property of the caregiver, who is usually an offspring of the aging person. Although this is usually called a granny pod, it could also be a grandpa pod. Or if they are both still alive, you can make one for both and call it a grand pod! 😀
Granny Pod Defined
A granny pod is a first world housing concept.
An elder care option, this high-tech tiny home is usually equipped with medical extras like handrails, first aid kits, defibrillators, soft floors (in case the seniors fall), among other things. The entrance may have a ramp and the front doors may be wider than normal to allow for easy access of residents on motorized wheelchairs.
In the Philippines, we have elderly parents or relatives living with their children, or the children living with their parents. The upper middle class and the wealthy may choose for another living arrangement, where parents and children have separate homes in a compound, be neighbors in a gated community, or be residents in the same condo building. Any of these options allows for independent living for the younger generation, especially if the children have families of their own, and for the parents, who have been taking care of themselves and their families for decades. In this way, the family members have their well-deserved privacy while staying close enough to be able to regularly visit each other.
Once the health of the parents deteriorate, this kind of arrangement makes it more convenient for the young and healthy to keep an eye on the seniors. If your house is big enough, and has many extra rooms that appropriating one or two for the parents’ use is an easy option, then, you can even move them closer and opt to have them live with you, as long as all family members, including the elderly, welcome this alternative.
Budget is a consideration for many people and could also be a huge factor in your final decision.
House Design for a Granny Pod
A granny pod is a type of micro living, and much more. Aside from design solutions to maximize a small space, there are also medical features, modifications, amenities and safety technology that have to be considered. It’s like a tiny condo but with bells and whistles.
The isometric illustration you see above is a simple rendering of a modern apartment. You’d need to check out that the access is wide enough that someone in a wheelchair can go through, and find out what medical extras you need to install based on your aging relative’s condition to make sure he or she is going to be safe and comfortable.
As regards the design of the interiors, take a page out of the Dementia Village‘s book. Bring in the design of the era which the resident finds most familiar because this would favorably influence his or her mood and behavior, as studies showed. So if a chunky sofa works better than a sleek mid-century one, get it. Chintz curtains instead of uber-cool blinds? Yup, do that too. The overriding factor is that anything in the home should be functional and easy to use.
A Remedy for the Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty nest syndrome is the loneliness that parents feel when their kids leave home for the first time. I’m told by friends that this is particularly difficult for full-time mothers. The vacuum that the child leaves can create such a silence that can be deafening. Some even experience grief, pain, anxiety. One has to learn to make a life again.
Kenopsia, a word invented by video editor, public speaker, and narrator John Koenig, triggered the writing of this post.
n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
I know there’s a huge jump between kenopsia and a granny pod, but hey, when my monkey mind says jump, I follow.
My take on this is that if you can afford a granny pod in your property, or provide your parent/s separate quarters in your house, I think this is a beautiful way to make sure that the person who nurtured you can live the last phase of his/her life in a happy frame of mind, surrounded by the tribe.
At one time or another, we all chase after success and/or material security, for some even fame. But the most important aspect in our lives that we need to take care of are the family and friends who are with us and who we have a connection to. Take care of them, and let them take care of you, and life can be so sweet.