Saturday, August 19, 2017

"People Want To Remain In Their Homes, And We Get To Help Them Do It"

We are in the aging in place business because we know how important it is for people to remain in the homes they have decided are their long-term residences. We have chosen to help them continue living in their homes for as long as they desire - essentially the rest of their lives.

Why do people get so attached to their homes that they literally do not want to leave them? Many reasons actually, notwithstanding the cost and disruption of moving into a retirement or care facility.

When people looked for and found the home they are in now, it took a tremendous amount of searching, comparison shopping, and an emotional commitment, as well as a financial one. They had to give up the home or apartment they had been living in previously - one that may have had some very good memories for them and one that they maybe liked also - to move into their new home. They could have occupied that previous home for years and been quite attached to it. Still, they felt they wanted something different than what they had.

Their former home could have had some shortcomings in terms of layout, floor plan, size, location, storage (closet or cabinet space), or maintenance and repair concerns. It could have been external changes. It had served their needs for however long they had lived there, but now they were acquiring something else. They determined that a move was what they needed to do at that time.

What they got and moved into - their current, permanent and "forever" home - was not a "house" or a "unit." Those are real estate and construction industry terms. They are impersonal and cannot reflect the value that someone's living environment has for them. "Home" is the correct word. People can get quite excited about remaining in their home long-term. Not so much about a house.

After people moved into their present home from their previous one, the set about making it their own and grew to love living it. It met their needs or could be adapted to do so. Over time, they saw no reasonable need to look for something else and make another move. This was it. They were in their final home.

People want to remain where they are because they have been paying down their mortgage for a number of years (maybe it's totally mortgage-free). They possess a lifetime of accumulated memories - from this home and all of their previous homes along the way, including the ones of their childhood. Usually, those memories are reinforced with mementos and keepsakes to remind them of their life experiences.

Most people have acquired so much "stuff" as they have gone through life, that the thoughts of going through it and sorting it - deciding what to keep and what to toss or donate (if anything) - become such a daunting challenge that it is not seriously attempted.

People find that financially it is very difficult to replace what they have now also - in terms of finding a home of comparable size or layout, with reasonable monthly payments (if any), and the neighborhood, features, and other attributes they would desire. Add to that the thought of packing up everything and moving someplace else and starting the settling in process all over, and it's easy to see why people want to stay put.

Then, we come along - knowing how committed people are to remaining in their current homes - and simply help them evaluate how well their home meets their needs, what can be done to enhance their living experience, help them arrive at a sensible budget for undertaking some improvements that will allow them to live better and more comfortable - and safer - in the home, and get started on the work.

We should consider it an honor to help people retain their independence and achieve their objective of remaining in their homes.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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.