Saturday, May 21, 2016

"There Are No Textbook Solutions For Aging-In-Place Considerations"

Creating aging-in-place solutions is as varied as the people who require them. It certainly is not a one-size-fits-all type of modification - not even for similar needs and requirements. Each case is different, and so are the approaches used. This is what makes providing aging-in-place solutions so exciting as well as challenging.

While some providers may have a few templates that they like to apply to simple types of renovations for similar situations, this generally is not a good strategy. There are so many variables that affect how to approach a renovation. There is no book of handy, ready-made solutions that can be referenced and used.

We know that there are people who require modifications to accommodate mobility or sensory issues that limit their ability to get around well in their current living environment, or to have a quality life experience - and that those needs are as individual as they people who have them. There are others who have no special physical needs or requirements that just need their homes to be safer or more comfortable for them and their guests.

This is why there is no "off-the-shelf" approach that can be described, designed, or used to accommodate everyone. There are going to be times when solutions that are used or recommended are essentially the same as others suggested for a similar home size or layout or the needs of the occupants. However, there are going to be more times when the solutions designed are going to be quite different from those used elsewhere - for a variety of reasons.

Before a solution can be suggested, there are many factors and variables to be considered - even when two homes have similar layouts, or the occupants express similar needs. The first factor, and often the most substantial, is the budget. Just because a number of needs can be identified does not mean that all can be accommodated. In the case of two similar situations, one renovation might be quite extensive because of a budget that allows everything identified as being necessary can be done. The other might be much less by comparison because the funds just aren't there to pay for any more modifications.

Even the budget can reflect several factors, such as the amount of savings someone has, an equity line of credit they might have available, the ability of family members to contribute to the improvements - and to what extent, the number of years that the improvements are designated or foreseen to last, the general value or price point of the neighborhood where the home is located, how improvements might impact resale value or real estate property taxes, insurance payments that might be used to pay for improvements, and government grants or funding that might be available.

Then, there are priorities that determine in which order improvements are to be - if all of the work that might be needed cannot be attempted for financial or other reasons. We help the owners determine which items are the most important or urgent to undertake to address their immediate safety or well-being and which items might be a little further down on the list and being less urgent to do.

Of course, before any work is undertaken or proposed, an assessment or evaluation is conducted to compare observations with expressed needs. Owners might not even be aware of some of the items that can be improved to help them enjoy their homes more.

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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.