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A Temporary Hospital Room in Your Own Backyard - Medcottage: An Alternative to Nursing Home?

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A couple of years ago, Virginia law changed to allow temporary living structures to be put into backyards. Called Medcottages, they are meant to allow aging relatives to remain near the family in an environment that allows them privacy as well as the medical apparatus they need. 

I wrote about them over a year ago, and now they have arrived in Northern Virginia.

Although the idea may sound like a great alternative to placing your aging family member into a nursing home, they are not without controversy.

  • Will your neighbors shun you for putting an unsightly "trailer" in your backyard because it will lower property values?
  • Is the cost (around $125,000) prohibitive for most families?
  • Will the elderly family member feel like she is being put outside in a dog house?
  • Why not just build an addition to your house and solve these problems?
  • Why not just hire an au pair to come in to take care of the elderly person?

Nursing home care is expensive (and not without its own, serious controversy), often there are few acceptable alternatives (elder neglect in nursing homes is a well-known problem), and families may want to keep their elderly family close by.  This approach is an outside-the-box alternative.

The recent article in The Washington Post gave an interesting insight into one family's decision to put a Medcottage in the back of their Fairfax County home. More interesting, however, are the 250+ comments on the article and the concept - and the politics of it all.

What do you think? Medcottage or nursing home or spare bedroom for our elderly?

Category: Elder Neglect

Sandra Rohrstaff
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Virginia Child Injury and Elder Abuse Attorney

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