Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"People Really Do Like Their Homes, So Let's Help Them Stay There"

We are in the aging in place services business because we want to help people continue to remain their homes for as long as they desire - essentially the rest of their lives. Both our clients and ourselves derive a great deal of satisfaction in doing this - they for getting to remain independent in homes they have come to love and us for serving their needs.

Why do people get so attached to their homes that they literally do not want to leave them? There are several reasons, notwithstanding the cost and disruption of moving into a retirement or managed 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. This is a reason that Millennials likely will remain in the homes they acquire long-term as well. They are investing a considerable amount of behind the scenes time to research, locate, identify, and vet their potential home before making the decision to acquire it. 

Before people moved from their former home into their long-term or forever home (the one they have now), they had to give up their previous home or apartment - one that may have had some very good memories for them and one that they maybe liked also. Nevertheless, their former home could have had some shortcomings in terms of layout, floor plan, size, location, or maintenance and repair concerns. It had served their needs for however long they had lived there, but now decided it was time to acquire something else.

What they got and moved into - their current 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.

So, 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.

As a result, 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 contemplated or attempted.

People find that financially it is very difficult to replace what they have now also - in terms of size, layout, monthly payments (if any), neighborhood, features, and other attributes. 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 as aging in place professionals - knowing how committed people are to remaining in their current homes - and simply help them evaluate how well their home meets their needs, assess what can be done to enhance their living experience, determine a sensible budget for undertaking some improvements that will allow them to live better and more safely in their 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. We need to respect what they have obtained and approach our assignments as opportunities to help them live even more effectively in their homes over the coming years - regardless of any physical needs or limitations they may have.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.