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August 16, 2018

Retirement Housing: Fixing Big Problems with Tiny Solutions

Imagine you’re retired. Your old house is hard to maintain, and it’s getting a bit tough to climb stairs. You want a place that’s safe and manageable with limited mobility. Since you don’t want to keep moving, you need a stable, long-term solution. 

Not So Golden, Golden Years

You go out and start searching for a home to last you through your golden years. Unfortunately, finding a place is much tougher than you expected. You look all over town only to discover that all the senior living options are either depressing or prohibitively expensive (or both.)

You agonize over the Sophie’s choice of paying for housing or preserving your life’s savings for your family. When you finally move into your new senior living center, you’re treated like a child. You have to live under their rules. No pets. No alcohol. No overnight guests. No sweets. They decide when you wake up and go to sleep. In the final years of your life, you’ve lost your autonomy. 

With such miserable alternatives, aging in place is surging in popularity. Perhaps for lack of other reasonable options, many seniors try to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Eleven million elderly Americans now live alone and those aging in place can suffer from social isolation. Lonely seniors are at increased risk for depression, dementia, and death. Since families are scattered far away, children worry whether grandma is lonely. Is she safe? Who will look after her if she falls ill? 

Fortunately, hope is on the horizon: affordable tiny houses. Instead of a bleak retirement home or assisted living facility, now imagine living in your own, customized tiny house. Everything is ADA-compliant and designed for you. Doorways accommodate your walker, cabinets are a snap to open, and everything is within reach. 

The commode, kitchen, and shower are fully accessible. Upper-level storage is automated and springs to life at the touch of a button. Pets, chocolate cookies, and overnight guests are allowed. It is your home, after all! 

The Power of Choice = Dignity

You make the rules and preserve your dignity. Here’s how it works. Geriatric specialists partner with builders to create a fleet of tiny homes tailored for seniors. They are designed from the ground up for folks with physical limitations. Then, each buyer is individually evaluated and the unit is further customized to his or her particular needs. 

Finally, the houses are outfitted with easy to use sensors and voice assistants capable of calling family, monitoring the home, and contacting emergency services. Once the home is built, it can be transported to wherever you’d like to live. For instance, these homes can be installed in the yards of family members as a detached in-law unit. 

Grandparents can live near grandkids, which is perfect for childcare or tea. Yet, everyone has their space and privacy. Alternatively, homes can be arranged as a senior living community complete with friends and activity centers. Senior loneliness can be a thing of the past! It’s time to think about customized and affordable tiny homes for our loved ones struggling with housing in their golden years.

Gregory Charlop is a technology pioneer, author, children’s physician, and social entrepreneur. He brings real estate and technology experts together to solve society's toughest problems. Greg is particularly focused on improving senior housing and is currently writing a book about technology and the future of the real estate industry.

Greg is the host of The Real Estate Flash, a free daily news and opinion flash briefing available on Amazon Alexa devices. Enable the Flash on your Alexa and check out the show!

Greg is also CEO of Visionary Remodels. He is developing a real estate app that uses augmented reality to help real estate agents prepare homes for sale. You can check out Visionary Remodels anytime. 

Greg is also a speaker at real estate and technology meetings.  You can contact Greg on his LinkedIn page. LinkedIn page.

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