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Unlike a permanent home remodeling job, a pod’s flexible design comes in handy if and when you no longer need the unit.

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People who go this route tend to find it preferable to a nursing home.Being close to family makes the elder feel less isolated (and could reduce the risk of resulting depression).In 2010, N2Care successfully convinced the Virginia General Assembly to pass a law that supersedes local zoning ordinances and allows homeowners to put a modular dwelling on a property with a doctor’s order.Four other states (including New York and California) have introduced similar legislation to allow for medical modular units.With people living longer and the cost of care rising annually — not to mention the potential for a shortage of beds and care in nursing homes — he says creative solutions will become more important than ever.

And for millions of Americans looking to age in place, a customized mini medical mobile home might be just the ticket.

Starting at ,000, N2Care’s 288-square-foot unit, MEDCottage, is marketed as a “nursing home alternative.” The entire structure is accessible, has rubber floors (to minimize damage from a fall) and offers medication dispensers and robotic technology to monitor the resident’s vital signs (including glucose levels and blood pressure).

There’s safety lighting and air filters, floor-mounted sensors to alert you of potential health problems and falls, and even a lift to help the resident use the bathroom.

If you’re one of the nearly 44 million Sandwich Generation adults who are caring for a parent, it’s encouraging to know there’s a smart and relatively inexpensive alternative to putting Mom or Dad in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, or having them move in with you.

It’s the “granny pod” — a modular, handicapped-assessible residence that can accommodate medical needs and allow your loved one to age in place in a small home, right in your backyard. According to the 2012 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth insurance agency, approximately 70 percent of people 65 and older will require long-term-care services at some point.

Ultimately, it’s not just a fixed expense but an asset.