You may have already heard about the MedCottage. There has been a lot of coverage over the past few months about this unique approach to aging in place. The MedCottage was created and developed by Ken Dupin, who lives here in Salem, VA. I had the opportunity to tour the prototype MedCottage which currently resides at the Corporate Research Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The MedCottage is a modular self contained medical environment that can be set up almost anywhere, but the idea is that it can be set up for the care of a loved one near the home of the caregiver, so that the family can stay close to, and manage the care of their loved one.
The features which are packed into this 288 square foot modular structure are really astounding. There is a positive or negative pressure system so that any pathogens can be kept in or out. There are electronic reminders to remind you to take your medications. The lights are designed to light up the floor to help prevent falls. (Oh, and by the way, they are motion activated so they come on automatically when you get up to go to the bathroom) And if in spite of these safety features, you were to fall, the floor is designed to absorb 80% of a fall (you can bounce an egg on it without breaking it). There is a ceiling lift that can transport a patient from the bed to the shower for those who are unable to walk. You also have the ability from any where in the world with an internet connection, lock and unlock the doors, see who’s at the door, check the temperature, blood pressure, weight, fluid intake, etc. of your loved one living in the MedCottage. In short, the MedCottage will allow thousands of people to grow old gracefully near people that they love and who love them rather than spending their final years in an institution.
As I discussed in last month’s Housing Matters I am envisioning community networks popping up around our great country that will enable our aging population to access the help they need to continue to live independently in their later years. I am excited to see innovations like the MedCottage being developed by private enterprise to meet the needs that will be continuously growing as our population ages. The 85 and older age group is now the fastest growing demographic in our country and will be for years to come. I can see a time in the not too distant future when there are MedCottages, and homes wired with similar technology connected to a community hub where senior citizens and their caregivers can easily access the resources and services they need to live full and healthy independent lives for as long as they desire. I for one will continue to strive to make this vision a reality. For more information or to comment on Housing Matters please call (540) 384-2064 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s all work toward better housing, because Housing Matters!