Sunday, March 26, 2017

"One Of The Reasons That Aging In Place Is So Desirable"

There are many reasons why people choose to remain in their current home as they age - and we get to help them do this as aging in place professionals. One of the biggest single reasons for staying put as people get older is just plain inertia.

We may remember from our high school science or physics class that inertia is that state of being - action or inaction - where a body remains as it is until and unless acted upon by an outside force. In the case of aging in place, people tend to remain living where they are unless some unusual and compelling circumstance causes them to reevaluate that decision and make a change.

Even minor health or mobility issues, the loss of a loved one, or even sensory impairment does not seem to be enough to get people to act as a rule. They simply enjoy living where they are and as they do, so they continue to age in place in their current home.

For some people, this is a conscious decision. They actively choose to live where they are and have no intention of moving. For others, it's more subtle. The idea of finding someplace else to live has never been that strong so they continue to reside in their present home. Either way, the result is the same.

In this fast-paced world, there is something reassuring and comforting for people about waking up in the same home everyday. To some it might seem humdrum or boring; however, just the opposite can be true. Knowing that people have found their forever home gives them great peace of mind and eliminates all of the stress of worrying about finding a home just a little bit better or a little newer than what they have now.

While people of any age can look back a few years and remember fondly (or perhaps not as fondly) the way things used to be or how they didn't have all the technology they do today. For instance, in a couple of months, the 10th anniversary of the release of the iPhone will be observed. That means that a decade ago people didn't have an iPhone. They had other types of cell phone devices. Go back another decade, and the choices were even fewer with the technology being more limited.

People in their sixties or older today have witnessed so many changes in their lifetime. They remember when there was no space exploration and then when there was. They remember ridiculous prices for gasoline, bread, milk, and other items when compared to today. They remember when new homes could be built for less than $10,000 and new cars could be purchased for less than $3,000.

They have seen so many retailers come and go. Amazon didn't exist as they were growing up, and neither did any type of online shopping. The internet as we know it now is a fairly recent occurrence. Many people in their sixties were the first in their family to go to college.

All this said, it's comforting for many people - in light of all the serious and dramatic change they have witnessed in their lives - to have an anchor they can depend on. This is their long-term home - where things remain relatively constant.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

"Low Budget AIP Solutions Cause Us To Be More Creative"

As we have discussed many times, people have various budgetary abilities when it comes to affording and paying for necessary or desired aging in place improvements to their homes. Some people just don't have the ability to fund a project like others. In our role as aging in place providers, it is more challenging to work with the smaller budgets because the need often is not less - just the ability to pay for it.

This forces us to be more creative in working with people in this category in two important ways. First, the solutions we propose have to be more innovative and cost effective. A larger budget can afford many details that a smaller one simply cannot. Second, we need to be able to point people in the direction of financial and support services that can help them pay for necessary projects whenever possible.

When people have large budgets, they can afford to do most anything reasonable to accommodate their needs. They aren't limited in what they can spend, the quality of the items they select, the brand names they use, of the number of improvements they decide to incorporate into their design. They don't need to decide in favor of one design over another because of what the designs represent in terms of price or because they can only afford to do so much.

If there are several items that need done in their home, the higher budget individuals can choose to have all some or all of the work done. They aren't limited financially in their choices. The lower budget cannot approach their remodeling this way. They must prioritize the work that needs to be done and select the one or two most pressing needs and then act on those.

Again, this causes us as aging in place professionals to be creative as well. Working with people who can afford to complete whatever work is necessary only causes us to identify all of the work that can be beneficial for the client. The smaller the budget, however, the less this is true. For low income seniors, they may have many needs and almost no means of taking care of them. We have to determine low cost ways of approaching their needs or identify products that are fairly inexpensive to use.

While working with people who can afford whatever we suggest and whatever is deemed necessary, people of more modest means are going to be very limited in what they can afford. Maybe they can complete some of the simpler work we identify by themselves. Maybe we can get volunteers to help them. There may be some grant money. The point is that working with people with high needs and low means causes us to find lower cost ways of approaching their renovations and a means of helping to pay for them also.

The reality is that some of the work simply won't be able to get done. Therefore, we have to be careful that we identify the most important task that will help the client - whatever the cost. If that is out of their ability to pay for it, we then need to see if we can determine a very low-budget means of accomplishing the renovation. This is especially true for issues that present real safety concerns for them. We cannot leave the work undone if there is any possible way to achieve some measure of success in addressing it.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, March 24, 2017

"Finding An Aging In Place Home Is A Lifetime Quest"

It's common for people as they move through life to own or live in more than one home - possibly several in many different geographic areas. Part of this is dependent on their income, their career paths, and family considerations.

Counting living with their parents as they were growing up at home and then going away to school and living in an apartment or dormitory, people also could have lived in rental apartments on their own or with roommates or owned a home or condominium apartment. They could have purchased a new home at some point, or it could have been one that was previously owned.

Regardless of how people start out - apartment or home - they generally progress through a series of different residences as their needs, income, and family situation changes. Some people move between cities for employment reasons or even within the same city or general area. Some get married. Some start families. Some have parents or other relatives move in with them as those people become less able to care for themselves.

Nevertheless, people generally have a few different homes that they have lived in throughout their lifetime (from childhood onward) by the time they get to retirement age. Over that time, they will have had homes and layouts or floor plans they liked, and some they likely didn't care for as much. Some of the yards and neighborhoods were more favorable to them than others. Some they would enjoy return to and living in again, and others they are happy to be past.

Generally, we'd like to believe that people have rented an apartment or purchased a home because it fit their financial parameters, met the needs of themselves or their family at the time, was in a location that provided a commuting distance that worked for them, had amenities in the community or nearby that they appreciated, and generally had a layout that was to their liking. Of course, some people likely made hasty decisions just because they needed a place to live, the price (rent or purchase) was right, or something happened near them (a large retailer, factory, warehouse, or outside storage) that changed the appeal (and potential appreciation or value) of that home.

Along the way, many people have been able to identify a home that they like well enough to consider remaining in it forever and not looking for another one to replace it. Depending on their employment and whether moving for job-related reasons might be appropriate later on, people can come to this realization at any age. It's not just people in their 60s or 70s that determine that they have found their long-term home. This can happen at any age, or it's possible it never happens - people just continue to live in the home they have later in life without liking it that much but resigned to keeping it and making the best of it. They figure that remaining put is easier (and likely less expensive) than moving.

So, the question becomes one of whether a new dwelling is needed or advisable - and for what reasons someone's present home doesn't measure up to what they need or require. If it's where it located, that can't be changed without a move. However, if there is something physical about the home - layout, features, condition, styles, colors, or finishes - we can change that as aging-in-place providers.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"There Are Plenty Of Low-Cost AIP Solutions We Can Use"

Aging in place solutions that we recommend to our clients to help them remain living in their homes can range from simple low-cost to essentially free ideas to very elaborate, bigger budget items. There is no "right" idea - it is all client-centric.

Not everyone that needs repairs, renovations, and reorganization to remain in their homes has a lot of money to invest. Even those who do may not choose to do so. That said, there are plenty of low-cost options for people to employ.

While there are plenty of gorgeous solutions from which to choose, very simple ones also are available. In fact, many can be done by the homeowner or renter with a little guidance from us. Some jobs are going to be smaller than we want to undertake so why not empower people to fix their own homes to the extent that they can and are able to do so?

One of the largest areas of concern when we enter someone's home - and the area that they are going to be the most responsible and capable of addressing - is that of clutter, excess storage, and disorganization. We don't know what may or may not be important, relevant, or sentimental to someone and thus worthy or retention by them. As a disinterested third-party coming onto the scene, we cold easily toss almost everything they own as being unnecessary - based on what we see them doing in their space and based on our standards as well.

This isn't the point. We all hold onto things - "stuff." One person's junk is another's treasure we may have heard. So, just because something doesn't seem to have any value or worth to us does not mean that our clients are ready to part with it. Still, it doesn't have to be in the way or preventing reasonable access and visitability in their home.

While we likely would choose to discard the bulk of what we see people retaining (wonder how someone from the outside would evaluate what we retain in our homes?), the bigger challenge - and easiest emotionally for them - is to get them to put everything away. Have them purchase storage boxes and containers, dressers, or cabinets that can house their items. Maybe they will need to consider building more closets or adding shelves to existing closets and cabinets. Maybe a yard sale or thrift store donation is in their future.

If people just put away everything they have - by finding room for it among various shelves, drawers, closet rods, bins, baskets, boxes, and other hiding places (including under the bed) - the floors, countertops, tables, chairs, stairs, and other areas where people walk, use, or see would be from of distractions and potential safety concerns.

Beyond this, simple fixes that homeowners and renters can do themselves - or have done for free by a friend, neighbor, or relative, or relatively inexpensively by a handyman - include replacing harder to use round or egg-shaped door handles with lever-style ones, using single-lever faucets (at least in the kitchen) instead of the dual handle ones, swapping out the older-style small toggle wall light switches with the larger rocker ones, and removing the incandescent and florescent light bulbs in the home and replacing them with the equivalent LED bulbs.

There are other items, but this is a good start. Then we can come along and address larger or more complex issues.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Knowing How To Work Within A Budget Is a Big Factor In Aging In Place Renovations"

When we speak with someone about making improvements to their home so that they can continue to live in it safely and comfortably - whether there is a special need that should be addressed or not - we need to determine what price range or budget they have in mind.

There are so many ways of approaching aging in place projects - even with the same basic need. We can spend a little or considerably more depending on the extent of the work and the materials that are used. Some jobs are going to be much more extensive and complicated than others. Some are going to be relatively simple - because they don't require much work or because of budgetary constraints.

It would be great to provide a full range of solutions to everyone we encounter, but many people don't need them or aren't interested in having that much work done, don't have time for us to complete such an extensive remodeling, or don't have as large a budget as others.

Depending on our particular business model and what price point and range of solutions we offer, we might be able to supply a very simple solution for someone at a very modest investment. Someone else may invest several times that amount. When the lower end or the higher amount of the range is outside what we typically provide, we can call upon a colleague that we have previously identified to assist them.

Having strategic partners that do smaller jobs than we do (unless this is where we focus our attention) or larger ones (unless this is our mainstay), will enable us to serve everyone in some capacity - either directly or by referring them to a professional colleague that we know that can help them.

Even when fairly extensive repairs seem to be called for, there can be simpler, less expensive ways of approaching them in order to provide a more complete range of solutions and still provide a quality job. By being very aware of products that are available (lighting, flooring, appliances, cabinetry, countertops, and hardware, for instance) we can suggest durable, serviceable solutions for our clients that look nice and fit within their budget. A quality solution doesn't need to be expensive, but when the client wants to invest in a higher end product we can do that as well. 

By being creative and really understanding how people use their homes, we often can suggest solutions that are fairly modest but very effective when people do not have a large budget to work with in making their renovations. There are several ways of approaching a similar result. This is the key to being responsive to our clients and being a good aging in place services provider.

If everyone had the same amount of money to invest in a project or required the same items to be installed with essentially the same finishes and look, it wouldn't take the type of knowledge and creativity to approach the renovations as we need to use. Most jobs would look and feel the same, and there would be a lot of routine to it. The one thing we can say with certainty is that our work is not routine. All solutions, budgets, needs, preferences, desired outcomes, and the length of time the solutions need to cover are different depending on the client and their specific home and ability.

Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Adjusting Priorities Is A Constant Activity"

Priorities are a part of life. We constantly are making choices and evaluating whether one choice is better for us than another - in essence, setting priorities or measuring our decisions in light of priorities we already have set or that are emerging.

What to have for breakfast? Are we trying to reduce calories, increase protein consumption, limit fat intake, or bulk up for a strenuous day ahead with no real chance for a lunch break? Do we want to eat healthy, grab something quick, or skip it altogether? Are we going into a meeting soon that will have pastries, fruit, and coffee so eating a breakfast has a lower priority for our schedule right now? Are we trying to adhere to some goals we have established for ourselves?

Something as simple as having or not having breakfast - a choice we face everyday - has priorities and consequences. Depending on how we prioritize the importance of eating, what food to include if we do eat, and how we think we will feel after consuming it (full, sluggish, guilty, hungry, happy, or something else), this will determine how we approach this daily event.

Then there is driving to the office or that first appointment. Do we have enough gas to make it or do we need to stop for fuel, is the car reasonably clean in case we will be seen by someone important or possibly need to take a client or colleague to lunch, and have we left early enough to miss potential traffic delays or allowed for an alternate route just in case?

As we go throughout our day, we constantly are asking ourselves - consciously or subconsciously - whether something we are doing or about to do is the best thing we can be doing at the moment or if there is something more important to be doing (a higher priority). This doesn't mean that we are working 24/7. Getting a class of water so we don't become dehydrated, grabbing a snack for sustenance, or taking a shower after we exercise may have the highest priority of the available choices at the moment we choose to do them.

This practice with setting, adjusting, and acting upon our priorities gives us the experience we need then to begin working with the public to modify their homes for a safer and more comfortable existence.

There could be dozens of issues that we encounter or that we notice when we arrive at a potential client's home. Depending on their short-term and long-terms objectives, their general level of health, and any physical limitation they may be experiencing, we will help them establish some priorities for their renovations.

A lot of what we are going to recommend is going to be dependent on the condition of the home, improvements that have been made to the home already, the mobility needs of the clients, their budget, the number of years of service that might be a desirable outcome from the renovations, whether everything that needs to be done should be attempted in one renovation or it will be staged over time, and how adjacent homes in the neighborhood have been improved or upgraded.

Then will will help our clients set priorities to tackle the most urgent or pressing needs first and some of the lesser needs later or perhaps not at all - if they aren't presenting any obvious safety concerns.

Setting priorities is how we determine what needs our attention the most on down to items less demanding. When people have a large budget, everything might be able to be accomplished. Still, the order in which the renovations will be completed needs to be set - priorities. For more limited budgets, priorities will identify the most important work to be completed.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Making Everyday Tasks In The Home Safer"

The home should be a safe place, but we all know that it is not. So many slips, falls, burns, cuts. bruises, trips, and other accidents happen in the home. Many are avoidable or preventable, if we understand how things happen.

Our role as aging in place professionals is to understand the mechanics of our own home first. Then we can project what we have learned onto the homes - and occupants - of those we visit and desire to help. Assessments are not done in a vacuum.

Just because we have a checklist does not mean that we understand how things happen and how to avoid those instances in the first place. By living the experiences in our own homes first, we are in a position to empathize with our clients and to speak from a position of practical knowledge (and not just academic learning) when we talk about making their homes safer.

Home assessments often begin with conversations between us and the clients we are visiting. We want to know what is going on in their homes with issues they might be experiencing. Are their homes making life more challenging for them that what they want? Are their homes presenting safety or mobility challenges for them? Can we verify what they say they are experiencing by watching them move about in their homes?

Without understanding how and why some of the issues exist that are being reported to us because we have witnessed similar circumstances in our own homes, we aren't going to be as prepared to help people rectify their concerns as we should and could be. It's one thing to have read about something or to see it one a checklist and quite another to understand what it means through firsthand experience.

So, as we begin the process of evaluating our clients' homes with them and looking at how they organize their closets and cabinets, the quality of their flooring (including the presence of area rugs, throw rugs, or runners that may not provide safe footing or might be tripping hazards), lighting that is or is not present in various areas (including harsh shadows or poorly illuminated areas), how easy it is to move from one area of the home to another (including hallway and doorway widths and the way that doors open into, interfere with, or congest other space), and the presence of glare and troublesome reflections from shiny or polished surfaces or mirrors, we understand how and why to look for such issues because they are or have been present in our own homes and we have lived with them ourselves. 

Everyday tasks that people perform in their homes such as walking about from room-to-room, making meals, cleaning up, eating, showering, dressing, watching TV, reading, and going in and out from the house to the garage, porch, or outside should be as safe as reasonably possible based on the layout and design of their homes. What may be required initially may be a change in home furnishings, decorating, accessorizing, or the amount of storage rather than any type of renovation. There may indeed be some physical changes that might improve the quality of life in the home, but a more basic approach or removing unnecessary items, painting walls more appropriate colors, eliminating sources of glare, and making sure that items allowed to remain in the home are relatively safe and easy to use may be far less expensive and disruptive for them to accomplish - at least in the short term.

Again, knowing what to look for based on our experiences in our own home as well as what we have seen in the homes of other clients make us a much more valuable resource to our clients when we consult with them about making their homes safer and more enjoyable.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"The Great Thing About Home Modifications Is That There Are So Many Possibilities"

When we think of home modifications, general remodeling, or even aging in place renovations for a specific need, a few ideas might come to mind because they often are used as solutions. However, the great thing about our business is that there are no constants - no consistent way of approaching the many challenges we face.

There are some commonly attempted projects such as a new roof or shingle replacement, widening doorways, increasing the width of a hallway, adding grab or safety bars in the bathroom, or installing hard surface flooring. Nevertheless, within this brief list of potential projects, we can see how there are dozens of different way of approaching something - including the scope of the job, the amount it costs, the materials and finished selected, the brands, the general appearance, and the desired outcome. All of these affect how the job is undertaken, and this is why no two jobs are ever alike - similar possibly but not alike.

There are just so many ways to approach an issue that it keeps our jobs quite interesting and let's us design custom solutions that are specific for our clients and their needs. Even when two adjacent homes that were built at roughly the same time by the same builder will need different treatments because they are occupied by different people.

This is why solutions can't be prepackaged, inventoried, published in a catalog, or carried with us in our vehicle to deliver to a client's home because we typically use such a solution. Whatever we select to recommend to a client and to ultimately create and install must fit several criteria such as what the client requires, their budget or price point, what the home has already, the age of the home and how easily it may or may not accommodate the changes that envisioned, and our business model as to how comfortable we are in offering this approach or serving this type of client.

Some home modifications are going to be done without any medical need being present. Still, there are many color and design choices, finishes, pricing, and desired outcomes that will factor into what is selected and how long the project takes to complete.

Whether done for general remodeling purposes of to accommodate someone with mobility concerns, replacing flooring can involve many different types of products, colors, finishes, and styles. Having someone tell us that they need a new floor installed could mean many things until we go further to learn what they are thinking of, why they are leaning in this direction, if they are open to other ideas, how they use their space, how durable they want the product to be, and how soon they want the work completed. How much they intend to invest is always an important item to address, but sometimes it is not dominant factor in choosing a design.

It doesn't matter how large or how small the proposed work is or if we are going to be doing all of it ourselves or using others to help us complete the job, there are so many ways to look at a proposed renovation and then to suggest ways to accomplish it. This is what keeps our business fresh and exciting. There is always something new to do - even though it might be similar to an approach we have used already. Of course, each client and their needs, life experiences, and expectations are going to be different also, so appealing to what they want and need will keep what we do exciting and varied. 


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Selling Isn't As Complicated As We Might Think"

Sometimes the concept of selling can be an intimidating prospect, especially to those who see it for more than it is. Some people think of "being sold" and want no part of it. They never want to put someone else in this position and have no interest in selling as a result.

Unfortunately, selling does have a bad reputation for many people. Nevertheless, it is quite honorable and necessary so let's see if we can get past the stumbling blocks of making sales.

For any business to exist, there must - not just needs to be but must - be sales. It's how a business receives revenue and keeps the business going. Even non-profits have sales - getting donations, charging for services, holding fundraisers, and applying for and receiving grants and funding are all sales activities.

Knowing that all businesses must have a sales function - in some form - and since our aging in place businesses therefore must have a sales function as well, we need to learn how we can embrace it.

Let's begin by looking at the notion of "being sold" or working with someone we consider to be a glib or slick salesperson. The image of "used car salesperson" may come to mind. Selling cars is a great way to earn a living, but many salespeople in this profession have brought the unfortunate image upon themselves by their conduct.

The reason we don't like being sold is because at such times we didn't feel we were ready to make a decision - we were just looking, thinking about, or getting ideas for a possible purchase later on. Maybe it wasn't even a serious interest that we were expressing but one more of curiosity. Nevertheless, some salespeople will take any opportunity they see to make a sale and go all out with every technique they have ever learned.

There are times we willingly make purchases, but we feel we are in control of the process. A good salesperson knows how to make this happen and only asks for the sale when there is a clear indication that the customer is comfortable with a decision and in fact wants it to happen.

Being talked into or pressured into something is no way to create a favorable relationship. We may buy something because we feel that we had to, but we won't be happy about it. Generally, we end up returning what we bought or cancelling the transaction, and we feel somewhat resentful for having been placed in this position.

So how do we keep from ending up like the salespeople that we can't stand to be around? We do this by getting to know our customers, by having a conversation with them, by genuinely wanting to serve and help them, by explaining how what we are proposing really can help them, by allowing them to express their concerns and not feeling threatened, by not having to make any particular sale to survive, and by not being in a hurry. The process in aging in place solutions takes time. We must be patient.

When we see selling as communicating with a potential customer what we have that help them - after we determine the exact nature of their need - selling is nothing more than having a pleasant conversation with our clients and customers without pressure being applied. We have no quotas to meet. We are only there to serve them, and we want them to appreciate what we are trying to o for them. We are comfortable with them not making a decision until they are ready to do so and don't try to manipulate them into doing something they are prepared to do.

This is how professional selling occurs, and this is what all but eliminates "buyer's remorse" because the customer really wanted to purchase what we presented.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, March 17, 2017

"An Alternative To Extensive Home Remodeling - The ADU"

Many families today are becoming multigenerational. Either younger adult children - ones in their twenties or thirties who have been at college, the military, or living on their own or in a relationship - or aging parents are going into the formerly empty nester household. Often, it is a case of both children and parents moving in to create a "sandwich" situation.

Rather than undertake renovations to the home that will allow either the younger ones or the older ones - especially the older ones - to live more comfortably in the host home, an alternative that is gaining momentum is the auxiliary or accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

This small, compact building - also known by such names as the tiny home, granny-pod, and transitional home, among others - is becoming increasingly popular as a solution for accommodating the need for extra living space without touching the main dwelling.

In cases where the aging parents live independently but in a home that does not allow them the access or mobility they require, the ADU may be a great idea for them as well. Their current home can be left as it is while adding the very accessible ADU to the backyard. The main home can be rented for additional income or retained as it is for resale in a few years. 

The ADU comes in various appearances and styles to fit most any architectural tastes and size requirements - from under 300 square feet on up - and is designed to fit into the backyard of an existing home.

Whether it is added to the backyard of the host home and then used for the returning younger adult children or for the elderly parents, it provides full-time living accommodations for those additional individuals without requiring any work to the main dwelling. Various upgrades and modifications might still be desirable in the main home, but they will not need to be done prior to accepting additional occupants since they will be living in their own adjacent ADU.

Typically designed and installed at grade level as a completed unit delivered to the site unit or as a kit that is assembled on site, it might have a small elevated porch or deck with an inclined walkway to connect it with the ground level around it. It could be connected to the main home with a covered sidewalk or breezeway also.

The ADU is a simple, livable, and easily accessible one-level floor plan that provides a living area, eating area, kitchen, bathroom, storage or closets, and sleeping area (sometimes a dedicated bedroom and sometimes using the living area).

ADUs have many aging in place advantages, but before they become even more widespread in usage, local jurisdictions will need to embrace and accept them. The property setbacks may have to be relaxed to allow ADU buildings to be closer to rear or side property lines - possibly right up against fences. The number of people that can occupy a building site, their relationship to each other, and the number of dwellings per acre may need to be revisited and modified as well.

The main thing is that there is now an alternative to extensive remodeling by adding a separate living unit to the property that can accommodate aging parents and have the added flexibility of being used as living space for caregivers or for a member of the family, a study, den, workshop, home office, playroom, or rental apartment.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.