The premise of aging in place renovations
There are many ways to approach helping someone to remain in their home long-term. The aging in place designs we create are focused on safety, comfort, convenience, and accessibility within the home. This is all tempered by a few factors such as the age and condition of the home and what will reasonably fit in the home without major or more expensive modifications, the current lifestyle of the occupants and what they want to maintain or achieve, the personal desires of the occupants, and of course the budget.
There are many commonly used renovations or approaches that we like to use when all things are equal, but they are not always appropriate. For instance, a walk-in shower, which can be expressed many different ways from a totally flush unit to one with a small lip to one with a curb, might be desirable in a home, or the occupants may be totally fine with their tub even though it’s not particularly safe for them. They may have other, more urgent, higher priority needs dealing with the flooring, the wiring, the lighting, appliances, cabinetry, and other areas so that the shower is much further down on the list.
If we are to apply a standard approach to aging in place design we likely would include shower renovations in our Top 10, but we don’t get to choose irrespective of the needs and desires of the client. They may want that or appreciate it, but rank it several positions lower. They may have a desire to shorten the distance or remove the steps from the stoop or porch or landing into the entry door or something else they consider to be more of a pressing issue for them.,
Using a baseball analogy
Using a baseball analogy of just getting on base rather than hitting for the fences (making a home run), those who understand baseball or softball, and have watched or played it, are familiar with the concept that usually we can’t score unless we get on base. We can hit the occasional home run, but a more consistent and reliable strategy is to get on base first.
There is a school of thought among coaches and players that says that you need to just get a hit to get on base. You could even take 4 pitches (if they’re balls rather than strikes) and get on base that way. Unless you’re on first base, there’s no way that you can continue around the base path and eventually score. If you attempt to hit a home run and instead strikeout or attempt to hit a home run and line out to one of the fielders, then the scoring attempt is over.
Start by getting on base
It’s much better to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t and get on base. In the long run, a player who can do this consistently is much more valuable to their team than one who can hit the long ball but just occasionally.
When we look at aging place renovations, we can’t make any impact for our clients if they don’t give us the chance. By the same baseball analogy, if we attempt to do too many things, if we attempt to make too many changes, or if our budget is necessarily high to reflect all of those changes, we may get shut out. They may not be interested at all.
While we lose the potential income and business, the clients are the big loser in such a case because we’re in this to serve the public. If we can’t serve them by at least getting on first base, by making an improvement regardless of how small or inexpensive it might be, then we have failed (struck out).
The improvements can be so minor and seemingly insignificant as changing out incandescent bulbs or CFL bulbs with LED ones or adding a single lever faucet in the kitchen in place of the dual lever faucets. We could be replace old, worn out, harder to use toggle light switches with rocker light switches. In fact, there are many things that can be done that will apply to basically any home that currently does not have them rather than attempt a much more comprehensive modification.
Applying our business model
When the client has the need, when they have the budget, and when they have the interest, we’re all-in. We can swing for the fences and create a really magnificent project for them. However, in the total realm of aging in place solutions, our goal is to use our business model to identify homes and situations where we can help people remain in their homes by creating safe solutions.
If this is not our business model or we don’t have a clear approach to the way we offer our services, we need to be clear on what we want to do and then look for situations where we can make the greatest impact – regardless of the scope or price point of the improvements.
There are no right or wrong solutions or textbook approaches or standards to achieve. We just want to help people remain in their homes. Let’s get that hit to get on base. Then we can go from there. Let’s not take such a big swing at the ball that we strike out and end up not helping our clients by not appealing to their needs or having them decline our services.