Aging in place.

As your parents and loved ones grow older you start to notice subtle differences in the way they live their lives. These modifications generally come after something has happened.

  • The stool in the kitchen is replaced with a sturdier chair.
  • The rug in the hallway is taken up without comment.
  • The dog isn't walked for as long, or is walked in a different location.

Those who are aging in place don't generally make much of a fuss about these modifications. They don't want to lose their independence. They don't want to be a burden on family members that love them. 

That's the funny thing about US culture. We value people with a strong sense of independence, people who make their own way without help from anyone else. We expect that every generation is going to exceed the privileges and opportunities of the generation before. As one begins to age, it is difficult for the role reversal to happen. At some point they have to stop being the generation that is leading and allow those in the next generation to take a leadership role. 

We often buy houses 30-40 years before we will need think about modifications that will need to happen as we get older or our living circumstances change. I live in a house that is all one story, which is great for aging in place.

 My house

My house

However it is on a big hill, the couple of steps required to get into the house are quite steep and the step into the bath tub is very deep.

Because I've been the caregiver for family members who weren't steady on their feet, these quirks were the first things I noticed when I toured the house. We rent this house. I wouldn't purchased it without a workaround plan for those quirks.

Here's what I'd do. 

 

The hill

 You could terrace the front so you have gradual steps instead of a steep hill to walk up or landscaping could make a wheelchair accessible slope

 

The entrance

I'd change the entrance to the house so the sidewalk and front could be wheelchair accessible.

 

The bathroom

I'd pull out the tub and put in a walk-in shower with a seat. 

 

It will be several years before I will need modifications in my home (hopefully), but with this understanding I won't buy a house that doesn't allow me, or my loved ones, to age in place. Cur8able keeps track of home designs for people with disabilities. Many of these accommodations work for those who want to age in place.

 

Help from AARP

As the largest non-professional organization in the world targeting those over 50, the AARP, of course, has resources worth perusing.

As a 39 year old, I submit these considerations are more important to me now than they will be when I am in my 50s or 60s. If I make the modifications now, I am being proactive. If I make the modifications when I am in my 60s the improvements may be overshadowed by what I perceive as my inability (and I may not want to spend the money). 

 

Visit the Home Fit section of the AARP website to see how your house stands up to the test.

And download the home fit guide to help you understand stylish modifications that can be made in your home when you're competing your next renovation.