Likely the two most extreme examples of aging in place solutions are found among those people who do nothing with their present homes but remain in them and those who demolish all or most of their present home and rebuild it. In the first case, people may not have the financial resources or connections to make the repairs necessary, but it is more likely that they just choose to continue going through life as they have without doing anything differently. There are issues with safety, lighting, plumbing and electrical fixtures, and other issues that easily could be addressed, but they choose the path of least resistance and do nothing.
In the second case, people purchase a home in need of severe modification or decide that their present home can serve them better by keeping the outside walls and nothing else or leveling it to the foundation. Then they construct what they want for a longer-term solution.
Those who do nothing spend essentially no money on aging in place solutions (regardless of how much money they actually could spend), and those who do extreme renovations have a very large budget. These are the two most extreme examples of aging in place solutions and treatments.
Aside from this, the two extremes are those – primarily seniors – of modest means and those with substantial resources to invest in modifying and updating their current homes – short of major demolition.
It is these two extremes that give us as aging in place professionals the challenges of our calling. Obviously, there is a range of treatments possible with budgets lying between almost no money to spend and almost no upper end to spend.
For the low-income seniors, there don’t necessarily have any fewer needs than anyone else, and in many cases may actually have more due to the general inability to address normal maintenance issues as they arise. Lighting, flooring, doorways, windows, hallways, operational controls, cabinets, bath fixtures, cooking facilities, HVAC systems, and more likely present some major safety, convenience, comfort, and accessibility issues.
How then do we approach households on a fixed budget or with little means to take care of some of the major issues facing them? If we can’t do more than a couple of items, which two or three should they be? It might vary by the home, but these are worth considering in advance.
While we would like to do all we can, the budget just won’t allow it. We must choose what to do based on a hierarchy of needs – priorities – that suggest the most important items first. Sometimes, an item we really would like to do can be sidestepped to allow us to accomplish two other items with only slightly less priority. Thus, the residents would get more solutions for their issues – provided the major issue that was overlooked in this case was not a significant safety concern. There are times when the budget will only permit one thing to be done. Still, this is better than doing nothing. It is challenging and draws out our creativity to meet and solve solutions the best way possible.
At the other end of the spectrum, we find people with ample means to accomplish renovations that they would like done and that we agree should be done. Picking colors, finishes, styles, brands, and models is enjoyable because there is the money to fund the choices – even luxury choices. We can do far more to effect changes in homes of this nature, and a more thorough renovation can be undertaken. We still may not get to do everything that is indicated, but we stand a much better chance of completing our checklist of recommended improvements,