Caregiver Cottages: Bringing Your Loved Ones Home

When Barack Obama’s mother-in-law moved into the White House last year, it brought much-needed attention to America’s multi-generational families. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2008 there were an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16% of the population, living in households with three or more generations, up 33% since 1980. This jump is attributed to a number of factors including the economic downturn and the overall aging of our population.

While Marian Robinson moved into the White House to help care for Barack and Michelle’s two children, many multi-generational families are the result of aging parents who need additional assistance and care.

One of the first dilemmas these families confront is that of space or lack thereof. Privacy also comes into play, as well as how the arrangement will change the family dynamic. All the while, families want to keep their carees as independent as possible for as long as possible.

There are solutions that allow your caree(s) to live close at hand, while maintaining privacy and independence. Considering the average cost of a nursing home stay can reach over $70,000 annually or nearly $6,000 a month, these options may be more cost effective.

Be that as it may, the alternatives listed below are not for every family. The decision to move mom or dad home is one of the most biggest eldercare decisions a family can make. Accordingly, it should not be taken lightly.

MED Cottage: Med Cottage is a small mobile home that can be temporarily placed on the caregiver’s property. The Med Cottage is nearly 300 square feet and comes equipped with many high-tech assistive features including motion sensors, floor-level video cameras, as well as other remote monitoring capabilities, a smart pill dispenser, a virtual companion, and a lift to help move occupants. Med Cottage can be leased for between $1,500 and $2,000 a month or bought for $75,000. Potential buyers should research zoning requirements in their state and make sure Med Cottage is compliant. N2Care, the company that makes Med Cottage, expects to be able to start processing orders sometime in 2011. For more information go to or to watch a video click here:


Sidekick Homes: For another detached cottage-style option, consider Sidekick Homes, which designs and constructs backyard cottages that blend with the existing and neighborhood architecture. These living units are specifically designed for those with limited abilities. Sidekick offers standard and custom home designs. Homes usually take about 6 months to complete and models range from $75,000 to $200,000 for the structure itself, plus the cost of foundation/basement, utilities, and site work. For more information go to

Next Door Garage Apartments: Next Door Garage Apartments (NDGA) are temporary apartment units that are constructed inside a standard two car garage. A complete conversion can be done in 10 days and NDGA will convert it back to a garage when the unit is no longer needed. The apartments come with a private entry, living room, dining room and bedroom area, plus all necessary appliances. Utilities are hooked up to the primary home, but the temperature can be regulated separately. For buyers who reside within 200 miles of Indianapolis, Indiana, the cost is $35,000. For those living elsewhere, the cost is $35,000 and a percentage depending on where you live. The extra percentage ranges from 5% to 25%. For more information go to and to watch a video, click here:

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2 Comments on "Caregiver Cottages: Bringing Your Loved Ones Home"

Aug 28, 2010

Hi Ryan,
I love reading your posts! I think this is wonderful and I wish that these had been available for us when our “journey” began. We added “in-law areas” on to 3 different houses and the return on those houses were not always in our favor…it is not always a match for every buyer. Thank you for sharing!

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Aug 28, 2010

Hi Ryan–This is a terrific round-up. Thank you! It’s nice to know about these options, which I think will only increase in the next few years. (And, I will remember your photo when our hot and humid temperatures return this week. :) )