It’s an old expression but so true – life happens. How many people find at age forty or fifty that they are doing the type of work that they set out to do – what they went to college to study for and then undertake? People evolve, career paths change, and life happens.
When people purchase their first home, they typically don’t know what they don’t know. Oh, they may have done a lot of research online, visited model homes that builders have available, and shop for a home with a real estate agent. Still, they may not know exactly what they want – or what they don’t want or need – until after they have experienced their home for a little while. It may take some time to determine what works, what doesn’t work so well, what is missing, and what they now wished they had obtained. That can be fixed in their next home, assuming one is available in their price range and in a location they desire or will accept.
This is learning by doing – without all of the answers in advance. No matter how much research they have done, or what their parents or friends might have told them and coached them about, some things have to be experienced first hand. Plus, there is the fact that there are only going to be so many homes available in the price and location they are seeking – regardless of what features they contain. A wish list is fine, but it may need to be adjusted to get the home at the right price and location. Ability to resell it again in a few years (or less) is a factor also in that early home.
After living in their home for a while – not unlike driving a car and getting used to what it does well and what it doesn’t – they will notice certain things they really like, some issues that really are annoying, and several features that would make their life easier that just aren’t there. Maybe they didn’t think of these additional features that would have made their home more serviceable and enjoyable for them, possibly they know about them, or the homes in this price range generally didn’t have them. Often, it’s hard to know what to look for, request, shop for, or obtain until one gains a little experience.
Assuming people go on to get another home or two before deciding upon of locating their permanent home, each time, they will get a little closer to what they really want and desire. They will have learned what isn’t important and which features they use often and need to have. Sometimes, it’s age-related where the existence or stairs or some other feature is fine while younger but not as desirable when a little older. The same can be said of plumbing fixtures, appliances, and cabinets. People’s tastes, needs, and abilities change over time as well as their level of experience.
Being diagnosed with a progressive condition later in life or suffering a traumatic injury at any age can affect how we use our homes. There likely will be features needed to comply with that type of reduced ability that was unknown or not considered earlier. That’s how we can have a large and important impact as aging in place professionals.
With or without any type of physical or sensory limitations that someone may have when they select their forever or permanent home – and whether they know this is their long-term home when they select it or not – there may be many features in it that they are unaware that they need or that they soon discover they would like to have. A lifetime of experiences in other homes will prepare them for convenience and lifestyle features that they enjoy and want to have, but it won’t necessarily get them ready for safety features or ones focused on safety (such as fall prevention).
People who have been in their forever home for many years, and whether they knew this would be their permanent home or not when they moved into it, likely have made some changes in the intervening years. They didn’t need to have a complete knowledge set of what they would need today because their needs change and products to help them do as well.
The bottom line is that people don’t need all of the answers in advance to select a permanent home where they can age in place. Whatever they choose, we can help them analyze it and modify it for their need. Of course, the better they choose at the outset, the easier it will be to adapt it. As long as they have us, they won’t need to have a crystal ball to determine what they might need.