We hear people question the suitability of their home as being able to meet their needs as they grow older – those with special needs as well as those without. We also see discussion about choosing the correct aging-in-place home as the forever home.
Nevertheless, life happens, and people can’t always be forward-thinking in their choice of a home or able to move from the one they are in presently. That’s where we come in as aging-in-place specialists. We can help them deal with their current and projected situation the best way possible given their physical condition, the physical layout of the home, and their budget.
There is nothing that says that an aging-in-place home has to meet certain criteria or contain a minimum number of age-friendly features. If we are able to make just a single improvement for someone that enhances their relative safety and enjoyment in their home, we are further along than if nothing was done.
While it would be great to find someone with a generous budget, a home that was amenable to several changes, and a willing owner to go along with our textbook approach to renovating their home. This might happen, but generally will not.
We have to work with what is presented to us. It’s not always an ideal situation or one able to allow us to complete a full range of improvements. That’s where setting priorities becomes important. Some activities are going to be more important to do than others – for safety, accessibility, or general comfort reasons. Some are going to be less costly to complete than others.
While it’s true that moving into a nursing home or retirement center can run close to 6-figures per year, and that an aging-in-place renovation only needs to be done and paid for just once – at a considerably smaller number – there is no prescription for the ideal or complete aging-in-place solution. It’s a matter of what the residents of the home want, what they will allow or tolerate in terms of changes (and how long it might take to achieve them), what their budget or outside funding will accommodate, and what the most pressing or necessary concerns happen to be.
Again, it may not be possible to address all of the many needs that a home has or that the occupants of that home have with various physical limitations or needs. There may be too many to address reasonably, quickly, or economically. Therefore, the most pressing needs will need to take top priority and be acted upon to achieve a solution that provides more safety, comfort, and accessibility for those occupying the space.
From an ideal standpoint, there might be many more changes that we would like to make in a home or that we feel are necessary. These may be outside the scope of what is reasonable to accomplish due to factors such as the age and value of the home, the medical needs of the clients, and the amount of time required to complete the changes. Some improvements may be more urgent than others for a time standpoint.
Also, some improvements, while beneficial and called for from an assessment standpoint will simply over-improve a property. It will not be consistent with the real estate value of the home or the surrounding ones in the neighborhood.
In the final analysis, creating aging-in-place solutions is an art. Each case is different, and even two similar situations may have varying results for a variety of reasons having to do with the budget or funding, the clients, and how much work is appropriate to do.