Are pods the solution?

I’ve been reading with interest about a new solution for senior housing: the pod.  The idea is pretty simple: Retirement housing is pretty expensive, but not one really wants Mom or Dad moving in with them.  Thus, for the cost of about a year of assisted living, you can buy a fully-equipped “pod” and park it in the back yard.  The pod will hook up to the existing home’s utilities and sewer but will function as an independent apartment.  When the pod is no longer needed, it can be sold and removed from the property.

The concept has yet to gain major traction in the senior housing market, but I can see three main benefits to having pods instead of housing a senior in your home:

Privacy:  For as much as most folks love their parents, the element of privacy is very important.  If you aren’t one of the lucky Americans who can afford a house with a mother-in-law suit and you have a decent backyard, then a pod might be a good idea for you.  Additionally, even if you have the space, you might want it to remain yours.  Assuming that you can afford it, a pod is an excellent idea.

Technology: Although current models tend to function more like small apartments than mobile hospitals, new technologies will probably change this.  Whereas the traditional home might not be outfitted with grab bars, ramps, and even medical device support, pods can easily be designed with that in mind. Materials can be selected for microbial resistance, and the interior can easily be changed to add hospital-quality amenities. This will likely make it easier to care for seniors and can make it more worthwhile for families to invest in pods.

Price: These mobile apartments are a fraction of the price of assisted living or nursing, and they offer a decent alternative to being forced to place grandma in a home.  However, this does shift the burden of care to household inhabitants, so putting a pod in your backyard isn’t a magical solution.

As technology improves and the cost of long term care increases, I think these living arrangements will probably become more common.  While there is certainly an additional cost associated with purchasing a pod, I think the added privacy beats having the senior living in your home.  It also gives them some autonomy such that they don’t have to worry about infringing too much on household routines.  Additionally, the lack of permanence is also a plus.  Whereas adding onto your house or buying an adjacent property is expensive, a pod can be resold when it is no longer in use.

For more information, you can visit some of these retailers: MEDCottage and Pacific Modern Homes.  (If you’re a retailer and are interested in being listed here, send me a link to your site.  Also, if you’re a retailer in Texas, send me an email, and I’d be happy to come take a tour of one of your pods and write about it on my blog.)

And now a question for my readers: Do you have any experience with pods or similar living situations?  Where were the benefits?  What were the drawbacks? You can either leave a comment below or email me a Virginia@seniorhousingmove.com.