Many people want to remain in their homes as they get older, and the older they get, the more apparent this trend is. In fact, nearly all of the people over 65 voice this viewpoint – along with a substantial number of those in younger age groups.
That means that aging in place professionals, like us, have as much work to keep us busy as we are willing to undertake. Nevertheless, there is a tremendous variety of the amount of work that people want to have done and the budgets they have to invest in such projects. This does not mean that only certain types of homes, clients, or income segments want to participate in aging in place improvements – just that many variables affect the type of work and amount of improvements to be completed.
People with minimal budgets and those on fixed incomes can participate in aging in place improvements just as much as those with significantly larger budgets. Just because some people may have limited resources to invest in home improvements does not mean that they want to remain in their homes any less than those who can afford more substantial improvements. In fact, those with less to invest may want to remain in their homes more just because of their financial position. This is a tremendous opportunity for those who can incorporate this into their business model. It takes a special perspective to determine what can be done in a home with a limited budget and perhaps many needs – identifying and prioritizing the most important items.
There are no rules or commonly accepted standards that govern what should be done in a home to help people remain living in them effectively. Generally, safety items take top priority, but this can take on several different possibilities. Therefore, a limited budget might only be able to accomplish a couple of items to make those homes more accessible, enjoyable, secure, and safe. A larger budget might be able to complete dozens of items. The number of improvements does not govern the success of the effort but only how much we have helped to improve the lives of those we served.
Working with lower income seniors or those on fixed budgets, we are only going to be able to complete a limited number of projects. Therefore, we have to single out those that can be most impactful for our clients. For instance, we might be able to improve some of the lighting in a home but maybe not all of it. By concentrating on eliminating the darker areas in the home, we can make passageways and interior rooms safer to use and to navigate.
Additionally, by making some flooring improvements – to make it stronger, less slippery or difficult to walk across, and more durable – we will have added an element of safety and sustainability to their home. We might not be able to make the hallways or doorways wider because the limited amount of funds are needed elsewhere in the home, but we can put in rocker light switches, digital thermostats, and lever door handles at a reasonable price. Each of these provides a significant comfort, convenience, and safety enhancement that is not present currently.
With larger budgets, we have many options available to use for improving entrances into the home, porches, doorways, hallways, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, appliances, cabinets, closets and other storage areas, bathroom fixtures, windows, and more. The higher the budget, the more areas we can look at for possible improvements and the more we may be able to include in a renovation.
Completing projects with larger budgets can be challenging because there are many available solutions, products, and styles from which to choose that might serve our clients well. Conversely, with lower budgets, there are fewer ways to approach a solution so we might have to be more creative or inventive to find a solution that is both appropriate and cost-effective.
The point is that no one needs to be left out of the aging in place improvements discussion because of their budget. Where there is an interest in having something done, a solution generally can be found or created. With smaller budgets, less work can be done and possibly only a few solutions can be implemented. Nevertheless, anything to improve the safety, convenience, and comfort of those on fixed incomes is better than leaving their homes the way they are now.
We may not be the ones to offer assistance to those with smaller budgets because our business models do not accommodate this. Nevertheless, this is a great opportunity for people looking to expand or begin their aging in place services business where their business model has not been defined yet is evolving.
Everyone who desires to have improvements done to their home to facilitate being able to stay in it effectively long-term should be able to find someone who can help them.