Thursday, April 21, 2016

"What If Someone Only Wants To Do A Few Aging-In-Place Improvements?"

When we, as aging-in-place professionals, meet with a potential client that only wants to take a limited approach to renovating their home, what should be our response?

The simple answer is that a few improvements are better than no improvements. However, it greatly depends on what those specific improvements are and who in the household will benefit from having them done.

We might be in a position to assist them by agreeing to complete the limited scope of services with the hope and understanding that more work will be forthcoming at a later time.

On the other hand, we might discern that they are being unrealistic in skimping on what is really needed and decide to pass on the job. We could encourage them to contact someone else who might be willing to help them, but we would know that we could not derive any level of comfort or satisfaction from the job because it would not be sufficient - even in its limited scope - to achieve the quality of life they seek, based on what they have shared with us about their needs and what we have observed.

It's a tough call because we are committed to helping people remain independent in their homes with dignity. When people choose a limited approach to improving their home due to budgetary or other constraints, we still might want to work with them if they are beneficial changes. It's not the extent or the comprehensiveness of the changes that can be made as much as the overall impact on their lifestyle, safety, and general comfort.

Ideally, they would want to undertake more improvements than what they indicate they are considering, but as long as we concur that those are necessary and beneficial changes, we could go ahead and perform them with a clear conscience. We would not want to perform work for them just because the items to be done were easy or inexpensive to do when we feel that they wouldn't contribute that much to what the household really needs to age-in-place successfully.


There is no specific number of improvements that should be made or that need to be made in someone's home to make is safer, more comfortable or convenient for them, of to enhance accessibility. Maybe just changing out switches, handles, and other controls will be a great help to them. It might be a smaller scope than we want to undertake so we can refer it to someone else on our team of professionals. Likely, however, several changes are going to be required.

The point is that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss someone for thinking small or not wanting to spend a lot of money on a renovation or home modifications. It could well be that a little change will make a large improvement in someone;s quality of life. Then we can pursue additional work with them after they are satisfied with our approach to this issue.

The limited job scope would need to align with our business model for it to make sense for us to be directly involved in doing it, but there is no reason we can't be a referring partner to one of our team members if it seems beneficial. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, 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 stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.