Friday, April 7, 2017

"Homes Are One Of The Few Things That Remain Functional Over Time"

We know that the financial aspect of aging in place is quite strong. People choose to remain living where they are because they realize that they can't replace what they have for anything close to what they paid for their current home. This assumes that they can find a neighborhood they like as well or better than where they are living currently and that they can find a home layout or floor plan that they like as well as what they have now.

The Wall Street Journal reported that this spring is going to be a very difficult time for people shopping for homes due to low inventory, rising prices, and mortgage rates. Fortunately for people who have chosen to remain living in their current homes, this bit of news does not affect them. They don't need to be concerned with trying to search for and locate a new home.

They can continue living in their current home as it is, as it is with the changes and improvements they already have made, or with anticipated improvements that they are contemplating.

Homes are one of the few things that people use that actually remain functional year over year. Most modern technology items become obsolete quickly and must be updated or replaced. Computers cannot run on operating systems designed for computers of twenty years ago, and it's not just a matter of updating them. Physically, those computers were not designed with the capacity and the components that allow for updating.

Automobiles - while there are many classic cars from decades ago that have been restored to original condition and cars generally are kept in service much longer that used to be the case - generally don't remain with the same owner for dozens of years.

On the other hand, it's not unheard of for homes to remain in families for generations. Homes built in colonial America may still be lived in today. They may have been remodeled and had some of the wiring, fixtures, and appliances updated, but that's the point. The basic structure is sound.

Homes that were built correctly, regardless of when that was, can survive today and provide outstanding accommodations for those living in them. If they don't provide for the current needs due to layout or space configurations, those can be modified and changed. Appliances can be be added or updated, Cabinetry, flooring, lighting, wall treatments, plumbing fixtures, heating and air conditioning units, and many other aspects of a home can be changed, but the basic structure remains in tact year after year. It can have an additional story or basement added or more space constructed, but essentially it is the same home on the same piece of property. When the needs of the current owner vary substantially over those from whom the home was purchased, it can even be razed (with or without the existing exterior walls remaining) or substantially modified while still using the same piece of property.

Homes truly have the ability and the resilience to be relevant well beyond the time that other products that we use have become obsolete or need replaced. They have the ability to go on serving us with no substantive changes or to be modified according to individual tastes or to accommodate specific physical or sensory limitations that might be present over time.

This validates people's decisions to age in place and ours for wanting to work with them to help them achieve this objective.

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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 stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.