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What is Aging In Place and Why Should I Care?

Aging is a fact that Baby Boomers cannot avoid, so take serious consideration on how well your home will age with you.

How well would your current home age with you? If you were ever to have an accident or illness and lose some mobility, would you still be able to navigate your home easily? Kathy Sperl-Bell of Active Adults Realty in Delaware is discussing the important topic of aging in place that Baby Boomers seriously need to consider at this time in their lives.

Want to see if your current home will work for you as you age?Download our FREE Aging in Place Checklist here!

What is aging in place and why should I care?

Hi, this is Kathy Sperl-Bell of Active Adults Realty in Delaware, and Aging in Place quite simply means the ability to stay in your home as you age. I think that's something that all of us are interested in, and it sounds rather simple. I'm just going to stay here, I'm not moving. But, look around your home and see if you can answer these few questions. If you fell and became unable to handle steps, could you still get into your home? What about, something happens, an accident, and your wheelchair bound, or you have to use a walker, could you get down the hallway? Could you get through the doorways? Could you get into your bathroom? Many of us Baby Boomers, we really don't want to think about getting old. We're not old, and we're never going to get old.

Many new home builders are also ignoring the inevitable. Despite our best efforts, we're going to age, and we will have accidents or incidents that will make it difficult to navigate and even some homes in the new active adult communities are not ready for aging adults. If not us, what about your friends and family that may be coming to visit you? While most new home construction in these new active adult communities do provide for one level, or first-floor living, with at least a bedroom and bath on the first floor, that's about as far as they're going. I'm not going to get into the technical details of the seven principles of universal design, but if the builders would simply adopt the principles of Universal Design, we would have no problem planning to age in place.

The most important Universal Design concept states that building environments should be inherently accessible to all people, regardless of age and ability. That's regardless of being tall or short, or very agile, not so agile. In other words, a home with a no-step entrance is more accessible for someone using a walker or a wheelchair, or just frankly having bad knees. But it's also much easier for a young mother with a couple of kids and a baby carriage, or a stroller, or a shopping cart. Ease of access should be something that works for all. Perhaps the two most important aspects, therefore, of a home that will enable you to age in place is that no step entrance, at least one way to get into your home without steps. Doesn't have to be the front entrance, but one way to get into your homes with steps, and frankly, a curbless shower in your first-floor bathroom, probably your master bathroom.

Why are more builders not building homes with these features? They're telling me that people are not asking for them. They hear people say things like, I don't want slab construction because slabs are cold. No, they're not. This building is built on a slab, my home next door is built on a slab. Homes built today are being built differently than they might have been 20-30 years ago, even. Todays building codes are better, standards are better, and insulated slabs are not cold. A slab construction home makes it a lot easier to have a zero-step entrance. People will say, Oh, I want that loft or that beautiful additional bedroom and bath. Do you really need that space? Do you realize what it's going to be like to have to go up and down and up and down those stairs just to keep it clean after your guests leave?

Then I hear, I must have a basement. Why? I hear various reasons. To store stuff. I need my man cave. I need my workshop. Maybe what we need to do is look at some different floor plans that give you space for your man cave, space for your workshop, without having, again, steps up and down into a basement. I really want the gourmet kitchen or the granite counters in my bathroom. In other words, you're telling me you'd rather pay more for pretty, than practical. I understand. I'm just saying, what should you be thinking about when you're buying your retirement home, what you should be thinking is how well is this home going to work for me, how well is this home going to age with me over the next 10-15 years.

Have more questions about Universal Design, finding the right home for retirement or other related Delaware real estate questions? Leave us a comment below or submit your questions here.

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