Preliminary stirrings for small homes



It’s still early times for the small-homes-for-aging trend, but there’s movement afoot worth knowing about.

A recent article from the website Curbed notes a continuing moving away in senior housing from the institutionalized nursing homes and assisted living because people are bothered the lack of individuality and affordability they offer

Author Patrick Sisson describes the “ballooning” interest of the Baby Boom generation in senior housing offering lifestyle amenities, such as fitness rooms, walking trails, lap pools and opportunities to socialize easily and naturally. Universal design, allowing occupants to age in place safely and comfortably, is another growing demand. And urban infill for seniors desiring the convenience and stimulation of city living is starting to develop, particularly as affordability grows in importance.

Even so, most of this growth is still aimed at upper income groups, with entry fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and rents of $3,000 a month or more. Affordable housing is only starting to get the attention it needs.  

Meanwhile the idea of living one’s senior years in a “tiny” dwelling of some sort is getting some fine-toothed attention from organizations such as the AARP, for whom writer Randy Rieland has recently offered helpful analyses.

Rieland notes the growing appreciation of “tiny houses,” particularly accessory dwelling units (ADUs) for family homes, as affordable housing choices for the elderly. But, he says, ADUs  still have legal and regulatory hurdles to surmount in communities throughout the United States.

Part of the problem is getting communities to accept such structures as legitimate neighbors—an attitude that anyone interested in these as a viable alternative should be prepared to deal with.

Rieland also notes the personal decisions that have to be made prior to building and moving into a “tiny” ADU—for example, what about sharing such a relatively small space with a significant other? Will this make sense?

Also, can you really face the need to cull through and part with personal possessions and keepsakes that have accumulated over the years? Some people see the elimination of “stuff” to be the major challenge of any move to senior housing. Some difficult decisions need to be made, and all storage alternatives, including online for important documents, need to be explored.

What about your family’s social life—does it depend largely on in-home parties and hosting? And do your hobbies need significant inside space?

Rieland asks, importantly, can the tiny home you envision be properly equipped to support the needs of aging in place? This is largely the technological realm being explored on this site, and it will pay to stay tuned for developments in this rapidly growing field. Meanwhile, review some of the brief pieces below.