Posts made in February 2018

Misconception #4: Aging in Place is Only Practical in the Suburbs

According to a survey completed by HomeAdviser, sixty-five percent of homeowners who are over the age of 55 say the physical layout of their home will be appropriate as they age. However, approximately two thirds of those living in rural or suburban homes are more apt to believe this than those who live in urban homes (50 percent). Similarly, urban homeowners are more likely than rural and suburban homeowners to have completed or considered an aging-in-place renovation. Only 21 percent of rural or suburban homeowners have previously completed an aging-in-place renovation and 34 percent of them have never contemplated one, compared to the 31 percent and 15 percent, respectively, among homeowners in urban areas. Collectively, these data suggest a common belief that it’s easier to age in place in rural and suburban homes than in urban homes.

Reality: Cities Have Unique Aging-in-Place Advantages

It may be easier to modify rural and suburban homes for aging-in-place purposes, but this does not automatically make them more appropriate for older adults. In fact, the AARP Public Policy Institute released a new, first-of-its-kind tool stressing the importance of the social aspects of aging in place in 2015. The tool is called the AARP Livability Index. This index makes it possible for people of any age to figure out—at the neighborhood level—how well their community is set up to meet their future and current needs based on a wide variety of metrics, including housing, but also health, environment and transportation, amid others. Thanks to their increased social opportunities, superior neighborhood walkability and better public transit the livability score of urban communities is often higher than those of rural and suburban societies.

“In 2008, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities and by 2030 approximately three out of every five people will live in urban areas” (McIlwain 2011). The percentage of the world’s population over the age of sixty is more than eleven percent today and by 2020 will surpass twenty percent. Due to these statistics, the World Health Organization made the “Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities” which assesses eight characteristics of urban life that make cities more age-friendly. The eight components are:

  • Transportation
  • Respect and social inclusion;
  • Social involvement;
  • Housing
  • Outdoor spaces and buildings;
  • Communication and information;
  • Civic involvement and employment;
  • Community support and health services.

For each of these topics, a set of parameters was produced and issued in “Global Age Friendly Cities: A Guide” in addition to a checklist. Entries on the list range from the specific, such as having sufficient seating in outdoor parks, to the very general, such as having adequate inexpensive housing in safe locations close to the rest of the community and to service . Membership in the network expresses a pledge by the city to apply these guidelines and work to increase its age-friendliness. While it may be commonly believed that urban homes are less suited to aging-in-place, this is certainly not the case.

Sources:

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.

McIlwain, John. “Suburbs, Cities, and Aging in Place.” Urban Land Magazine, Urban Land Institute, 17 Aug. 2011, urbanland.uli.org/economy-markets-trends/suburbs-cities-and-aging-in-place/.

Misconception #3: Smart Home Technology is Simply for Convenience

Though the majority of homeowners over age 55 (67 percent) think that as they age it could be helpful, only 19 percent say they have contemplated investing in smart-home technology for that reason. This is likely because technology is still often seen as a luxury convenience rather than a sensible necessity. In fact, homeowners who haven’t considered smart-home technology to assist them with aging in place say that the most common reasons are: that they either didn’t need or are not interested in such technology (45 percent), that it is too expensive to buy (29 percent) and that it’s too expensive to install (25 percent).

Reality: Smart Home Technology Supports Independence

While smart home technology is frequently considered to be nothing more than a luxury convenience, these technologies can help aid in the process of aging in place and also increase the livability of the space for people of any age. For example, a smart refrigerator that automatically senses when groceries run low and is able to order new ones when needed. This single appliance that creates convenience for a young family can ensure that a homebound senior receives nourishment consistently.

It isn’t surprising that older adults are less likely to adopt smart home technology than young adults who are more familiar with it. This paired with the fact that smart home technologies are still coming into existence means that they are still expensive, which can make older homeowners even less likely to invest in them. Luckily, as time goes on prices will drop and the so-called “digital divide” will close.

 

Sources:

“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.

Misconception #2: Aging in Place is About Aging

Approximately 2/3 of homeowners age 55 or older report that they feel they are proactive when it comes to making aging-in-place home modifications. Nearly 90% say that they are familiar with aging-in-place renovations, additions, or products.

However, home modification professionals tell a different story. For example, over half of the experts that HomeAdvisor surveyed say that less than 10% of the projects that they are hired for are related to aging-in-place. Only about 20% of home modification professionals said that their clients reach out to them preemptively, before they are in immediate need of aging-in-place renovations. Most specialists stated that the majority of homeowners in need of such modifications sought them out reactively for a number of reasons.

The most common time that home owners hired home modification professionals for aging in place overhauls was after they or one of their loved ones acquired a worsening condition that over time will limit their independence (33 percent). The second most common time came as the result of a major medical incident or recent (25 percent), or because they are worried about a minor medical incident or fall that they experienced recently (19 percent).

In conclusion, the main reasons that home modification professionals were hired for aging-in-place are safety and accessibility, with only a small portion of the projects being done to allow for ease-of-living. While many homeowners want to be proactive about aging-in-place, most are held back by the misunderstanding that this will “senior-proof” their home prematurely.

Reality: Aging in Place is About Livability

The main purpose of aging-in-place projects is to make the homes more safe and accessible. “Aging in place isn’t about special add-on features that will only help you once you’ve fallen and incurred a disability,” says Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., director of Livable Communities at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “It’s about making functional home improvements that make spaces more useful and more usable for anyone, anytime.” (“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes” 2017)

In reality, countless popular aging-in-place enhancements— such as zero-step entrances, wider doorways, open floor plans, and motion-sensor lights— not only make the home safer, but can also increase the quality of life in a home. Such improvements often go undetected, but have the potential to be equally beneficial to homeowners in their thirties and forties as they are to those who are in their seventies and eighties.

“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.

Misconceptions and Realities of Aging-In-Place

This blog will be the first of a four-part series posted throughout the month of February. Each post will address one of the most common misconceptions about aging in place, followed by the reality.

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Misconception: Aging in Place is a Conversation for ‘Old’ People
Many people do not want to talk about or make plans for aging in place because they believe that it is only something “old” people need to do. Amongst homeowners who are 55 years old or older, 61 percent say that they are planning to stay in their home indefinitely as they age. The most common reasons they cite are that they enjoy the independence they feel in their current home, they feel safe in their present home, they do not have any physical disabilities, and they have family who lives nearby. However, HomeAdvisor found that homeowners who are over age 70 (77 percent) are more likely to desire staying in their home than homeowners who are age 56-70 (56 percent). (“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor” 2017)

This gap could be explained by people not feeling old enough to start the conversation on aging-in-place. On the other hand, it could also be rationalized by the fact that most individuals who plan on moving have most likely already done so by their 70s, whereas those who are older are already aging-in-place.

In fact, HomeAdvisor found that roughly 1/5 of homeowners have completed renovations that would allow them to age-in-place, whereas 1/3 of homeowners report having never considered making these types of modifications. Those who have not thought about aging-in-place renovations have two main reasons. The top reason given was that neither these individuals nor their loved ones had disabilities that would require such modifications to be made. The second most common reason given was that these homeowners did not consider themselves old enough to warrant contemplating these types of renovations. (“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor” 2017)

Reality: The Best Time to Think About Aging in Place is … Now

No one wants to age, or believe that they are getting older, which is why it makes sense that people wait until their seventies to announce that they have decided to “age-in-place”. On the other hand, something everyone wants to do is, “thrive-in-place”. In other words, they want to make their homes more accommodating.

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A young woman in her first home could add a shower bench to her to her tub to make it easier to shave her legs and take a relaxing shower at the end of a long day.

A young parent could have a microwave installed in place of a base drawer or cabinet, flanking the oven. This would allow them to teach their children how to cook meals more independently. It would also make it possible for the parent to stay in their home, as they get older, and are in a wheelchair or if they find reaching upward difficult.

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What is wonderful is that the same features that assist younger homeowners in thriving in their homes will allow them to do the same when they are older. It’s all about maximizing comfort, convenience and, as a result, happiness

“Aging in place isn’t about special add-on features that will only help you once you’ve fallen and incurred a disability,” says Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., director of Livable Communities at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “It’s about making functional home improvements that make spaces more useful and more usable for anyone, anytime.” (“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes” 2017)

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“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.