This month marks ten years since Solid Rock Enterprises was founded. In looking back, many things have changed dramatically and other things have stayed the same. In June of 2001 none of us knew that in a few months we would face the most deadly attack on American soil. While in many ways the events of September 11, 2001 changed our country forever, it also seems as if many people have forgotten it altogether. The awareness of aging in place has grown dramatically. Ten or even five years ago, if you mentioned aging in place, most people would give you a blank stare. Today there is rapidly growing awareness that most people would prefer to remain in their own homes throughout their lives, and there are many, constantly increasing tools and resources available to accomplish that goal. Although the concept of Universal Design had been developed by an architect named Ron Mace beginning in the 80’s it was still an idea that was largely unknown. Most people, if they thought about any kind of accessible design at all, envisioned something clinical, stigmatizing, and unappealing. Today more and more people are recognizing that living spaces can be designed and built that will not only serve us well throughout the course of our lives, but will be wonderful places to live, easy on the eye as well as comfortable and safe for everyone to use.
So what will the next ten years bring? One thing is for sure, we’re all getting older. Americans will be turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next twenty years. The percentage of Americans over 65 which stands at 13% today will be 19% by 2030. Life expectancy continues to rise. Studies show that approximately 75% of older adults would prefer to remain in their own homes as they age. In fact 70% of people spend the rest of their lives in the place where they spend their 65th birthday. However, most of the housing we live in is “Peter Pan” housing. (Housing for people who never grow old) So what’s the answer? I am very encouraged by the growing awareness I see of aging in place solutions. Many people are having Home Modifications done to make their lives easier. New technologies are appearing almost daily to help people age in place. I have written about some of these and will be writing a lot more in the months to come about some of the exciting new products that I will be making available here in Southwest and Central Virginia. People are banding together in new ways to help each other with daily challenges. Lynchburg Area Village expects to have the first village operational by the end of the year, and I expect to see some other ones popping up soon. I believe that we will gradually see more housing built using Universal Design principles that will accommodate our changing needs as we grow older or face temporary or permanent changes in our cognition, mobility, and other issues. I will continue to look for new ideas and new products to make people’s lives safer and more comfortable in their homes throughout the course of their lives. There is a lot to be encouraged about as we look towards the future in terms of living longer and better lives in our own homes. Thank you all for reading and let me know if you have questions or comments. I can be reached at (540) 384-2064 or firstname.lastname@example.org.