With 40.3 million people in the United States being age 65 or older in 2010 — a number that is expected to double by 2050 — where to house elderly parents and grandparents who have increasing medical needs but still want to retain their independence might have some families stumped. That’s why a Virginia-based company has developed “granny pods.”

The Washington Post recently featured the “temporary family health-care structures,” which can be located in a family’s backyard. You might be thinking what 88-year-old Viola Baez thought when her family invested in a backyard MedCottage.

Market for High Tech Heathcare Structures that Are Part of a Familys Homestead Growing as the Population Ages

MedCottage (Image: YouTube screenshot)

“You’re throwing me out! You’re sending me out to a doghouse!” Baez said, according to the Post.

Baez might not have initially wanted to reside in the $125,000, high-tech cottage but into it she went.

The company — N2Care — that creates the cottages was started by Rev. Kenneth J. Dupin. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center helped design them, according to the Post.

“Today, as 78 million Baby Boomers prepare for their senior years – potentially straining nursing homes and government-funded health care programs – we’ve taken a significant step forward in redefining the role of family in healthcare,” Dupin said in a statement earlier this year. “The first placement with a family validates our vision – to develop an alternative model for healthcare.”

Features of the 288-square-foot cottages include electricity and water; a kitchen that has a medication dispenser; and a bedroom for the patient as well as an extra space for caregivers when necessary. But that’s not all the bells and whistles. The website describes further:

Using smart robotic features, it can monitor vital signs, filter the air for contaminants, and communicate with the outside world very easily. Sensors alert caregivers to problems, and medication reminders are provided via computers. Technology also provides entertainment options including music, literature and movies.

Market for High Tech Heathcare Structures that Are Part of a Familys Homestead Growing as the Population Ages

Granny Pod features. (Image: N2Care. Bonnie Berkowitz and Alberto Cuadra/The Washington Post)

The Post reported that even the floor is specially designed to be cushioned in case someone falls. They demonstrate this by dropping an egg from a height of 7 feet onto the floor. They then drop it from 5 inches onto a hard surface to prove the egg was real.

Here’s a video tour of a MedCottage:

This also isn’t the only high-tech home care facility for elderly family members. The Post reported the market is growing for similar homesteads:

Several firms have entered the market for auxiliary dwelling units, or ADUs, as they’re known in the building industry. These include FabCab, a Seattle-based company that makes ADUs and full-size homes. Practical Assisted Living Solutions, or PALS, a firm based in Meriden, Conn., makes freestanding modules; and the Home Store, which is headquartered in Whately, Mass., sells modular “in-law” additions called “Elderly Cottage Housing Opportunity” additions.

As for how Baez adjusted to the home she thought was like a dog house, the Post noted that she seems to be adjusting and her family takes it as a good sign that she calls it “my place.”

Read more details about the MedCottage in the Washington Post’s feature here or on its website here. See a slideshow of photos of Baez’s “granny pod” in by the Washington Post here.

(H/T: Daily Mail)