Aging In Place
Aging in Place refers to the desire to grow older comfortably and confidently within your own home, in response to your changing needs.
Simple, affordable modifications at the time of construction can mean the difference between staying in your own home longer or having to find another option.
I am a Baby Boomer. My childhood memories include watching the Ed Sullivan Show in black and white, and full service gas stations with attendants who not only pumped our gas but checked the oil and washed the windows too. Like most Baby Boomers (and Peter Pan) I think that I will never grow old, and please do not use the "S" word on me. The word Senior is reserved for those people older than me, who not only deserve my respect but also my gratitude for paving the way to make life easier for us.
But, while my mind thinks I will never grow old, my body has other ideas. My right knee has no interest in running up the stairs and my hands are incapable of the simple task of opening a water bottle. At some point (if I am lucky) I will grow old, and when I do, I want to be independent and live comfortably in my own home.
Port Dover has become a popular destination for the Baby Boomer and Retiree demographic wanting to downsize square footage and step up the quality finishes and I see Port Dover builders hard at work building two bedroom, two bath bungalows with main floor laundry, but is this enough? Simple affordable modifications at the time of construction can mean the difference between staying in our own home or not. As a local Realtor®, I sell homes to people in my age demographic and would like to make sure people give serious thought to the Aging in Place concept when choosing to build a new home.
People of all ages value the ability to live independently and most of us prefer to remain in our own home for as long as it is safe, convenient and comfortable. Without a plan it can be hard to stay in control of our lives. Preparing for a safe and accessible future should go hand in hand with choosing cabinet styles and paint colours. Modifications to your new construction can be designed to provide the elegance you require now and the safety features you may need in the future. Many modifications will be low cost or even no cost (think lower light switches, higher electrical outlets). A small investment now will not only increase the safety and enjoyment of your home but can increase the resale value as well. (These costs will pale in comparison to the year in, year out, ever increasing costs of assisted living facilities.)As we age we are often challenged by everyday activities we once considered 'normal'. Reduced hearing, eye sight, cognitive ability and mobility are normal, age related issues. Even arthritis can make simple tasks like opening a door, walking up stairs and bending and reaching difficult. Taking a bath or shower can be a challenging or even dangerous task without proper installations. Simple modifications such as installing extra studding and plywood behind the bathroom tile or tub surround at the time of construction will mean the future addition of grab bars and other safety features can be done with minimal cost and effort. (By the way, grab bars have come a long way. New innovative designs include luxurious bathroom accessories that also happen to be grab bars 'hidden in plain site'.)
Two years ago, when we completed major renovations to the main floor of our home, we incorporated 'Universal' or 'Aging in Place' design and created a safe and accessible living space for people of all abilities. This also means that everything will be accessible to us if one of us were to fall or 'break a hip' and need to use a wheelchair temporarily or even permanently. The bedroom is larger now with a walk in closet, we have wide doorways and a wide hallway. The shower is walk in and the faucets are mounted to the side of the sinks instead of behind them. The kitchen has plenty of space to manoeuvre, most of the lower storage is drawers and all the hardware is shaped like a "D". The stove has front controls, the dishwasher is double drawer and the fridge is side by side with long handles. The flooring is a commercial grade vinyl which I find easier on my body then ceramic tile, simple to keep clean and I love it's mother-of-pearl finish. We designed these renovations with style and elegance and to date not one person has noticed that our home is wheelchair accessible.
Building homes to live in while you age does not mean your home will take on an institutional look. Most modifications will add to the comfort and enjoyment of your home now as well as promoting safety and accessibility in the future. I find that having a wider entry and hallway makes it much easier to handle bags of groceries. Using the walk-in shower to wash our 13 year old, overweight golden retriever is simple. If I ever require a hospital bed, having wider doorways will allow the bed to be placed comfortably in the privacy of my bedroom instead of in the living room.
Even though our spirits remain young, growing old is natural and inevitable, accidents can happen and none of us are immune from serious illness. We don't know what the future will bring. Preparing the home at the point of construction will give you a better chance of living a happy, safe and independent life well into old age in your own home. We can either look at these Aging in Place modifications as an unnecessary cost that can wait until later, or as a key step to preserving our independence.
If you are looking at model homes or planning on purchasing a new home in the Port Dover area, I would love to meet with you and explain the concept further, develop a plan with you, and help you negotiate these modifications to fit your personal lifestyle and goals. Most builders work with Realtors® and you deserve to have your own representation when making such a large purchase. For your free copy of my brochure 'Forty Aging in Place Home Modifications’ call me anytime at 519-718-1428.
Cindy Pichette is a Sales Representative with Nelly Bauer Realty Inc. Brokerage and is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES® Canada).
SRES® Seniors Real Estate Specialist®
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