By 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 20 percent of the population will be 65 and older. With continued medical breakthroughs and technological advances, it’s likely those seniors will be significantly healthier than any seniors before them. And that means the face of retirement communities and nursing homes will probably be entirely different.
Moving away from elder-care homes can only be a good thing, since facilities like these for aging loved ones so often feel depressing, lonely and costly—in 2012, a private room in an assisted care facility cost on average $248 a day. A less expensive, more liberating shift is already underfoot, as a trending number of seniors are taking their retirement money, selling off or giving away many of their assets, and investing in tiny homes.
The downsize frees up cash for travel, modest off-grid living, and house calls for healthcare or assisted living and ensures people don’t get “stuck” as they age. By designing their own homes, seniors can make sure doorways can fit wheelchairs or living spaces are carpet-free to prevent trip hazards. And the home healthcare renaissance means autonomous living for longer—doing away (almost entirely) with the depressing hallways and dining rooms of old folks' homes. Offering up their services for the 65-and-older crowd are tiny home companies nationwide that allow individuals to select the perfect houses for any lifestyle—whether as a cross-country adventurer, backwoods homesteader, or suburban lot owner seeking a simpler way of life.
Tumbleweed House Company, North America's largest Tiny House RV manufactuer, recently reported on the increased number of seniors opting for custom-built tiny homes and minimalist lifestyles.
One recent client, 72-year-old Bette Presley, downsized as a way to unburden her children from taking care of her. Switching to a tiny home also granted her mobility and off-grid living. Dani, a grandmother in her 60s who bought a Tumbleweed shell in 2014, is another client who became enamored with the idea of living in a tiny home after attending a workshop. To accommodate her needs, she had a custom-built wheelchair ramp and chair lift to the loft installed, proving that being disabled doesn’t mean a seniors has to give up her autonomy.
Then there’s the famous Sausage Nonnas, a trio of Italian-American grandmothers who recently partnered with Johnsonville and Uber, to use their tiny homes to travel and deliver their famous homemade sausages to select families in a campaign known as "Sausage Sunday."
Happier, healthier seniors who haven’t given up on wanderlust or their desire for independence? Maybe getting older isn’t such a drag, after all.