My parents have chosen to do it, and they are in their mid-70’s. I’m nearing my mid-50’s and if I have the choice to stay at home rather than move to a retirement village or an assisted living center, I too would choose to Age in Place. So would 89 percent of 50+ year olds, in an AARP survey conducted in 2005.
But many are not prepared to remain in their homes. Most have not taken even the most basic steps to make their home more senior friendly. In response to this growing Boomer trend, the NAIPC (National Aging in Place Council) has formed an education and resource website for aging adults who choose to remain at home (www.naipc.org).
The self-stated purpose on the NAIPC website is: “The National Aging in Place Council is a membership organization founded on the belief that an overwhelming majority of older Americans want to remain in their homes for as long as possible, but lack awareness of home and community-based services that make independent living possible.”
The identifier “Aging in Place” may be a new term to you but already there are hundreds of “specialists” identified in this field. The list of experts includes Legal and Financial assistance, Healthcare, In home care giving, Interior redesign, Remodeling, Insurance, Lifestyle transitions, Public and non-profit resources, Products specific to senior safety, Reverse mortgages and Real estate services.
The National Association of Homebuilders has also taken up this cause by offering an extensive training and certification course of study. CAPS certified professionals have completed the course of study that includes understanding senior demographics and the aging in place concept, how to make the home safe for seniors and extensive training in ethical business practices.
The NAHB website (www.nahb.org) has an extensive list of items around the home that anyone choosing to age in place will want to consider. Here I have provided a few of the highlights.
Exterior of the Home: Low-maintenance exterior of brick or vinyl siding; trees, shrubs and plants should be low maintenance; and deck, patio or balcony surfaces should be no more than ½ inch below the interior floor level.
Entry and Hallways: Hallways should be a minimum of 36” wide; provide at least one covered entry to the home with not step up or down; non-slip flooring at foyer; and provide a place for package delivery that is easily accessible to home owner.
Interior Doors and Windows: Doors should allow a clear path of at least 32 inches; replace doorknobs with levered door handles. Plenty of windows for natural light; low maintenance exterior and interior finishes; with easy to operate widow hardware.
Faucets: Install lever handles or pedal controlled faucets and make certain anti-scald controls are in place.
Kitchen and Laundry: Upper cabinets should be lowered three inches for easier accessibility; install glass-front cabinet doors and install pull-down shelving. Appliances should have easy to read controls; washer and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches to facilitate loading and unloading, or replace with front loading machines; replace stove with electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring pots and pans between the burners.
Bathroom: Provide at least one wheelchair accessible/maneuverable bat on the main level; bracing in tubs and showers, with seat in shower; raised toilet with grab bars; stand-up showers should be curbless and be a minimum of 36 inches wide; and install slip-resistant flooring.
The website’s list is quite a bit more extensive and continues with suggestions for stairways, lifts and elevators, Ramps, Storage, Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security, Flooring, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Energy-Efficient Features, and Reducing Maintenance and other convenience features.