Over the past few months, the concept of aging-in-place has come to the front of my mind. I have been training to run / walk a 5 mile race that is coming up in October, and for all those who knew me before I was overweight (yes that was a long time ago), I was never a runner. However, I needed a goal to motivate myself to exercise, and by some overwhelming depth of evil and bad decision-making, I decided that a 5 mile race would be the goal. So I run / walk / crawl a couple of miles two days a week and then run / walk / cry 5 miles on Saturday mornings. It has taken me a couple of months to get to a point where I could go the 5 mile distance, but now I know I will finish the race. Now I am working on finishing in under 1 hour. This sounds easy to some, but for me, that would require cutting 10 minutes off my time in the next 2 weeks. I am not sure I will get there unless by some very good luck the entire race is all downhill and perhaps has a portion that is run while sitting down…. So, I do love a challenge and want to beat my goal. I had a thought, perhaps if I go further in training, come race day 5 miles will go faster. Since I have been able to make 5 miles for a few weeks in a row and not die, I decided to go further this Saturday. After the relief sale, after walking 10,000 steps, after eating a lot of really good food that was not really good for you, I realized that this was not good decision-making. I made it 7.2 miles and did not die; mission accomplished – sort of. Two days later, my legs are still very tired. Not really hurting, just tired. They are heavy with every step. It is hard to walk up stairs. I know this will pass, but what if every day felt this way even if I did not run? How would life be different? How would my house work for me?
As I age, my body has new aches and pains. Things hurt that I did not know could feel pain and for no reason. My body has decided that torturing me is a fun activity. Assuming I am not alone, this is a problem for many of you, right? Tell me I am not alone… Please?
Assuming some of you also are aging (and I hope you are) and feel new aches and pains that you did not in the past, you might be interested in this concept of design called aging-in-place. This concept unfortunately has the word aging in it, and nobody wants to think about that concept in-place or out-of-place. So put that aside for a moment and think about living with ease in-place. According to AARP, over the next 14 years 10,000 people will turn 65 years old each day. If some or many of these people face new aches, pains and possibly mobility issues, where will they live? Will they want a house that has stairs? Will they want a house with multiple floors or many small rooms? Will they want a big yard to maintain? These are all new factors in this next boom in housing. The popular designs of the past, two-story homes or split level homes, are hard to adapt to when there is a mobility issue. It is not just about aging people, but what if you have a baby, stroller, and groceries – a house designed for aging-in-place provides ease of use. What if your daughter breaks an ankle? Having a house with a first floor bedroom and bathroom will make life easier for recovery. What if your friend in a wheelchair wants to visit? A house designed for aging-in-place works well for building a community of friends with all abilities. What if you want to sit down to work in the kitchen? What if you want more light at times in a room? What if you don’t want to bend over to plug in something? What if you need to move in a new refrigerator? What if you want to shave your legs in the shower? All of these things are answered by aging-in-place design strategies that make living easier. So when you are deciding on what you want in your next new house, you might think about this question: “Why should you want a house designed for aging-in-place?”
I have a home that was purchased twenty plus years ago and is most definitely not an aging in place home. Recently, I had the bad luck to break my hip in three places and was recovering well until it all went wrong. Second surgery two months later after much suffering and not being mobile. Point: walker would not fit through house (when I still could use a walker) and the wheelchair (forget that luxury). I slept, ate and bathed all in the same room for those two months before the surgeon decided a second surgery was in order. I am totally disabled and have to do things like find bath chairs that will fit in my small tub/shower because I need to sit down to shower, brush my teeth in the kitchen sink because it is higher. You get the point! Also, when the rescue squad had to take me to the hospital they had to carry me out in a chair and place me on the stretcher because the stretcher would not fit through the house. So, I highly recommend considering an aging in place home if you are considering building a new home. I, also, highly recommend, Charles Hendricks, as your architect.
Charles, this is a wonderful idea. If I ever need a new house this would be the kind that I would want. Excellent idea, even for younger families!!!
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