There is nothing that is labeled as an aging in place home that someone can search for online, find in the classified section of the paper, locate in a real estate publication, or find advertised anyplace else. This is not something that is created by a builder or anything that a home seller or real estate agent would use to describe a home for sale. However, it does not mean that such homes are not available.
They very much are something that people can find and purchase – particularly when they include universal or visitable design features. People just have to know what they are looking for or need in a home that they might be seeking or determine that they already have found such a home and are living in it now.
Because “aging in place” is a great search term and a trending topic, many home builders who do not understand what this concept entails have begun using this term as a branding tool. Nevertheless, people don’t shop for an aging in place home nor buy a home that comes with individualized solutions that are already present and ready to use. Unless it is a custom built home, there is no way that a builder can know what a given person will need for their physical and lifestyle requirements.
Simply put, aging in place is a process that takes many years of living in a home and deciding that it accommodates a person’s needs fairly well and likely will continue to do so, or that several changes (possibly even some significant ones) need to be made to make the home safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable – where the decision already has been made to remain living in that home. From the standpoint of what the home needs to include for the functional needs and abilities of the person or persons occupying it, each situation is going to be different. This is precisely why it can’t be determined on the front end and marketed as such to the public.
While a home – new or existing – cannot be marketed and labeled as an aging in place home because it is totally dependent on the needs, requirements, and lifestyle of the people deciding to purchase that home, it does not mean that people can’t find such a home. They can and do.
Many people are finding homes – some at a very early age in life such as their twenties or thirties – that are comfortable, accessible, pleasant, well-situated, and seem to have what they will need for the foreseeable future. Homes that turn into ones that can be lived in long-term do exist, and people frequently find them as they move through life. Others are still looking for such a home.
Still, the home itself does not need to a certain size in terms of the number of floors or square feet – many homes that would be labeled as tiny are sufficing for people long-term. It can be a single story or have multiple levels. It can have a basement or be built on a slab. It can be in an urban neighborhood with a relatively small homesite, or it can be more rural with a larger site or even one with acreage.
It may already have much of what someone will need to remain living in it safely for many more years. Then again, it may require significant improvements and modifications to improve general access to the home (for the occupants as well as people they invite into their home to visit with them), maneuverability inside the home (whether using mobility aids or not), the way the bathroom and kitchen areas can be used safely, and the convenience of items in the home, such as appliances, controls, cabinets, closets, and fixtures.
While there are homes that work better than others for living in them long-term, there is no special type of home (by itself) that one can find advertised or built as one for aging in place purposes unless it includes universal or visitable design features. It’s not the style or location of a particular home as much as it is the way it allows the occupants of it to live in it and enjoy their lives.