Whatever happened to the 1960's brick ranch? Okay, it may not have been the most attractive house on the block but it certainly was the most practical. As baby boomers we wanted to get out of those boring cookie cutter brick ranches where we grew up and into a sprawling multi-level but ask any real estate agent what is "hot" right now and you'll hear, "One level ranch style - they're getting snapped up like hot cakes!" Wow, things sure do come full circle.
One of the most consistent comments I hear from older adults and baby boomers, "I just want to stay in my own home." All sounds great in theory but is your home ready for you to age gracefully and stay at home? A recent study from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP says probably not.
American housing has primarily been built for the young and mobile. So what is it that our seniors and the rising population of baby boomers need in their homes? The 2011 American Housing Survey indicated five primary features that are key to keeping a residence livable when mobility and dexterity is compromised : extra wide hallways and living spaces, no-step entries and exits (including bath/shower entry and exit); one story living; rocker light switches, waist high outlets; and door levers.
The buzz word you are looking for is "universal design". It is exactly these "universal" adjustments to current housing and new construction that can mean the difference between having to move out of your own home, or finding the right living arrangement should you decide to move.
If you are a baby boomer who intends to stay in your home as long as possible then age proofing now should be priority Number 1! Some of these adjustments (light switches, relocation of outlets to waist height, and door levers) can be relatively inexpensive. More significant adjustments can be costly but addressing them now could keep you in your home a lot longer. Wait and you could potentially paint yourself in a corner. No one expects to have a fall or an illness that would confine them to a first floor bedroom or make it challenging to step into the shower but it happens. If you're not already equipped at home to face these challenges then you could end up paying high fees to be in a rehabilitation facility that can meet your needs.
With the cost of long term care hovering around $4000.00 to $7000.00 a month, the cost of a remodel to "universal design" starts to look better and better. Plus it will increase the resale value of your home. If your current home isn't "age friendly" then consider downsizing to something more manageable while you can make the move.
A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) can help you remodel your home using universal design concepts. To find a CAPS remodeler in your area visit www.nahb.org/capsdirectory (National Association of Home Builders),
As Jeff Foxworthy says, "Here's your sign!" Get busy making the decisions that can make your life or the life of a senior you know work more efficiently. This is your "next right step" to be in control of your life, your living arrangement and your long term happiness.
Best to you,