Are you ready for a number that will truly knock your socks off? The National Institute on Aging reports that the number of individuals age 85 and over will increase from 3.5 million in 1994 to 14 million by 2040!

The real estate world has already been in reaction mode for several years, coming up with ideas like the ?elder cottage? concept, or ECHO (Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity). Basically, the idea is to provide a small, detached structure that can be temporarily or permanently installed on the same lot when a primary caregiver resides.

While these units can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 and typically provide 400 to 800 square feet of living space, the recapture of the expense can occur rather quickly when you consider that living expenses in an assisted living or nursing home situation could easily cost thousands of dollars per month.

These structures are often better received in less densely populated areas, where zoning issues are less stringent. For example, a pilot program in the Ithaca, N.Y. area allowed eligible seniors to rent 672-square-foot dwellings provided they are installed adjacent to the residence of a primary caregiver. The property owner is responsible for utility installation and the county government delivers and maintains the dwelling in exchange for a rental payment that is subsidized by government support.

While 2040 may seem like a long way off, it?s reassuring to know that plans are already underway to accommodate this unique demographic!