How MEDCottage Works

Jonathan Strickland

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

One of the greatest responsibilities I think any society bears is providing care to the aging population. In some parts of the world, including the United States, the percentage of senior citizens in the overall population is growing on a yearly basis. Several companies have moved to develop products to help senior citizens live more comfortably and with more independence thanks to technological improvements.

One of those companies is MEDCottage. The company took an interesting approach to senior care. If you are a senior citizen's caregiver, how do you make sure the senior has a safe, comfortable living environment? Not all homes are well-suited for a senior citizen's limitations or lifestyle. The senior's home might not be ideal either -- particularly if the caregiver doesn't live nearby. And a nursing home might not be the right choice for the caregiver or for the senior.

MEDCottage's solution was to design a portable long-term housing solution. The buildings MEDCottage produces are modular. Adults with aging parents purchase a MEDCottage building, set it up on their property and connect its systems to their home. It's like building a nursing home room extension to your house.

The company offers three models of buildings ranging from 288 square feet up to 605 square feet. Each building has connections for water, electricity and waste disposal, all of which connect to the caregiver's own home. Each building also comes with a small refrigerator and microwave as well as a medicine dispenser. The idea is to provide the opportunity for the aging parent to live with as much independence as possible and to provide a high quality of life.

In addition to the basic necessities, caregivers can install systems to monitor the health and activity of a senior in the MEDCottage. Cameras mounted at ground level can alert a caregiver if an inhabitant trips and falls -- one of the leading causes of injuries for the elderly. Monitors built into everything from the climate control system to the toilet can send information back to caregivers at any time. And those caring for an aging parent can adjust climate settings to make sure their parent stays comfortable and safe.

The cottages aren't cheap. According to a Washington Post story, Socorrito Baez-Page spent around $125,000 total for the purchase and installation of the first MEDCottage. The company offers financing plans for families to help offset the purchase price of the units. And while a MEDCottage requires a significant investment, it may prove to be less expensive than a nursing home. When you factor in the senior's quality of life in that decision, which is difficult to quantify in a dollar amount, it may be more than worth the investment.

As the aging make up a greater percentage of our population, we'll have to find new ways to care for them. Technology and medicine can help us live very long lives. I imagine we'll see an explosion in technology designed to help seniors maintain a high quality of life while simultaneously providing assurance to caregivers that their loved ones are safe and comfortable.