We don’t like the word old. We also don’t like the words elderly, senior, “getting on in years”, aged, “no spring chicken”, older, “not getting any younger”, etc. You get the idea. The value of youth is extolled, while the value of old age is scorned. Nobody wants to admit to getting “old”. When you talk about solutions to help people adapt to the inevitable repercussions of aging, they reply, “I’m not ready for that yet.”, or “That’s for old people.” Think of the things that get better with age. With age comes wisdom. (Or at least it should!) Why do so many people want to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to preparing their homes so that they can live safely and comfortably in them for the rest of their lives? I get the impression that people think that if they install a grab bar in their bathroom or add an extra handrail on their stairs they are surrendering to the onslaught of old age, never to return. I prefer to say they are showing wisdom. We are encouraged to plan ahead for every other eventuality in life. We are encouraged to get our financial house in order for retirement, why not our physical house?
Having a home that is safe, accessible, comfortable, and beautiful is one of the best investments you can make in your retirement. Those who turn a blind eye to the fact that most of us live in Peter Pan Housing (Housing built for people who never grow old!) frequently find themselves suddenly facing the fact that they can no longer live there after a fall or other traumatic event. Decisions made when facing a crisis are almost universally bad decisions. Don’t wait until there is a crisis! Make plans now to have a home that will serve you throughout your life. I believe that all homes should be built using Universal or Lifespan Design. Since only 15% of us go through life without experiencing some form of mobility challenge at some point in our life, it makes sense to build homes that don’t present barriers to entry or movement throughout the home.
You may be surprised to learn how simple it is to have a home that is accessible to all people. The simple act of installing 3’ wide doors throughout the home can make a huge difference in access not just for those who use a wheelchair or walker but also for everyday use. (And for those moving the furniture in or out!) The price difference between a 2’ wide door and a 3’ wide door is negligible when compared with the price of replacing it later. There are many examples of simple and inexpensive changes that can be made to make our homes more user friendly, but the first change that must be made is in our thinking.
Take a few minutes to think about your home and what it means to you. If it is a place you love and feel comfortable in, what changes can you make to make it a home for a lifetime? If you need help with planning, get in touch with us. We can help. A good place to start is with the Aging in Place Planning Guide. You can download it from our website at www.solidrockenterprises.com or you can call us at 540-384-2064 and we will be happy to send you a copy. Thank you for reading Housing Matters.