“Aging In Place Is About Having A Long-Term Relationship With Our Homes”

Our homes are like an old friend that we get to spend time with and enjoy as the years pass

If we think back to our high school or college years (or thereabouts) when we began dating, some approached it casually, but others made a serious study of it. There was a lot of trial and error as we learned how to be with someone else, how to take their needs into consideration, how to be ourselves, and ultimately determine if we liked being with and around them well enough to keep the relationship going.  Often we didn’t, and we moved on. Sometimes, the other person did this for us.

At some point, it may have turned into a life-long commitment – just as we do with our homes. Finding a long-term, permanent, lifetime, or forever home (different terms for the same thing), is very similar to the dating process. Some people know what they want in a home before ever getting their initial one and are patient enough or fortunate (lucky, perhaps) to find that long-term home and not have any other their entire lifetime.

Others have a serious of apartments and homes over the years, perhaps a dozen or more before they decide on something they really like. Some never do really find that ideal home and just keep on moving and looking.

Often, we begin ruling out locations and features that we don’t care for early on in our occupancy career and then look for something more appealing to us. It could take a move or two, depending on what is available and what we find.

When people shop for a new or different home, the real estate salesperson that works with them will ask a series of questions about the features they like in their current home, the ones they are looking to include in their next home that they don’t have now, features that are unimportant or unnecessary for them to have, and their “must have” features. Then it’s just a matter of finding a home that meets most, if not all, of these requirements.

When we begin living in the home that we feel either is or could be our long-term home – however long ago it was that we moved into it – we feel more committed to it. In fact, NAHB reports that the average (50%) occupancy in this country is more than 13 years. That definitely shows a trend toward being committed to staying put and aging in place in the homes we are in.

Now that we are living in a home that we like and that we freely admit is our forever home (or we are pretty sure that it is but hesitate verbalizing it), we need to treat it with the respect that we show an old friend. We wouldn’t withhold support, help, or financial aid from a friend, neighbor, or family member that we know can use what we can offer. Similarly, we wouldn’t withhold regular maintenance or repairs from our homes, would we? Unfortunately, some do, and it requires more work to fix when we ultimately get involved.

When we change the heating or air conditioning filters, caulk cracks, bolster the insulation, attend to leaks, and keep the skin of our home painted (inside and out) to keep it looking nice and prevent deterioration of the surface, we are showing our homes – as well as ourselves and those who know us – that we care about our home.

We want the relationship with our home to last as long as possible so we are doing everything in our power to keep insects away, protect it from water damage (from precipitation, groundwater, or a system leak), and maintain it in an effective way. It has near-human qualities when we approach our homes from the standpoint that they are our friends and that this is a long-term relationship we are in together. We want our homes to be well, look well, and in turn, function well for us and allow us to use them in the most efficient way possible.

When our homes have slippery floors, doesn’t have the wiring capacity that we desire or that the building code requires, has cracks in the sidewalks or uneven or soft spots in the flooring, the lighting is weak, or it’s missing some of the finish on the cabinets, appliances, mirrors, or bath fixtures, we can step in and help. We are the immediate beneficiaries, but the home is going to be more complete and solid as a result.

While we would do most anything we could for a mate, a child, a neighbor, a friend, or anyone else we care deeply about, we should consider our homes in this same light. They are our long-term friends as well and we need for them to be there for us.


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