I’ve been an advocate for Aging in Place Gracefully since 2006. For most Americans who are over 50 years old, I’ve observed two major obstacles that prevent this reality.
OBSTACLE NUMBER ONE
The number one obstacle to the 50+ is an age phobia. The negative attitude or stigma that so many attach to aging. Therefore, why would they need any home upgrades since they are not aging!
Yes, of course, we have heard the phrase, 70 is the new 50. We also are aware of the older social media influencers and the like. However, when it comes to doing upgrades in homes, the mindset is different. When it comes to ensuring a safer, more ergonomic, and functional 50+ home? Here comes the resistance. Most think these upgrades are for those old people.
Believe me, I’ve seen this resistance during my three decades in my interior design business.
OBSTACLE NUMBER TWO
The second major obstacle stems from the unavailability of 50+ appropriate homes. This astounds me. There is a huge demographic out there wanting more than what is on the market.
This is simply wrong given the vast amount of info on this age group’s wants and needs.
And then there are these major huge developers – no names mentioned. These developers market for the 50+ and sell a crazy amount of homes in prime areas. However, my BFF just moved to one and you know what? No curbless showers were an option, not even with an upgrade pricing. Nor could they raise the master vanities without a price increase. Nor reposition the island to accommodate their wants.
It is shocking to see the inadequate number of homes that meet the 50+ qualifications. Shocking! Particularly when one considers the large amount of publicity this demographic receives. Why do we not have more home options to age gracefully in livable homes?
THE REALITY OF TODAY’S MARKET
Allow me to share our experience. Almost three years ago, my husband and I came to a realization. Our current home’s location was not where we wanted to live the rest of our days. Because we knew what a 50+ downsized home required, our search eliminated most potential homes. They were woefully inadequate to meet our needs.
This tells me that I was correct in my book, Design Smarts, in the chapter, “We Need a Housing Revolution.” Additionally, the 50+ individual’s perspective must evolve. To grasp that aging at home upgrades is the smartest avenue for them to pursue.
Of course, there is always the option of upgrading one’s existing home to Aging Gracefully. If moving is not desired or is not an option. But why would this be another obstacle?
During decades in my interior design business, I’ve made another observation. The majority of homeowners simply do not regard their home’s appropriateness for Aging Gracefully a high priority.
I was, however, very fortunate to design upgrades or homes for the savvy homeowner. The ones who were wiser than the majority of age-denying individuals. These were the ones seeking how to live not only smarter, and better, but also safer and easier. Their homes have features that usher in a wonderful home experience for years and years to come. This is the homeowner that I love!
To this end, we designed our former home. We built it to be a “living lab” as an Aging In Place home. I taught classes on this subject by real-life examples in our home. We had many tours there and people would ask, why it was an aging-in-place home. It absolutely did not look like one.
And this is the key. We need more examples of Aging Gracefully at Home. For those individuals who are not fortunate to be in an area where these models exist. Therefore, this is exactly what my Lifesizing® message is. To educate and motivate with positive real-life examples.
HAVE YOU CREATED YOUR LAST, BEST NEST?
Nevertheless, my passion and message will always be motivating this powerful, beautiful demographic. To pioneer with me and bust open these outdated negative strongholds. To live the fabulous life we are meant to live.
So I ask you, is your home your friend or your foe?
- If you had a cast, or recent surgery, or a recent knee or hip replacement. What bathroom in your current home would work for you to easily take a shower?
- Do you even have a first-floor bathroom where you can maneuver safely for your basic needs? What if you are on crutches from a procedure or accident?
- Do you have your own private, personal sanctuary space in your current home? What could a sanctuary space have anything to do with a healthy home?
- What about when entering or leaving your home through your garage? Is there a landing, with wide, deep steps, good lighting, and a handrail?
- When working in your kitchen, are you always reaching up or bending down to do everyday tasks?
- Well, your answers to these questions will reveal whether you are living in a healthy Gracefully Aging Home. One that equips and empowers you daily to live a healthier life and to age gracefully at home. We all deserve no less.
For more on what it means to age gracefully, check out this article on the essential ingredients required to age gracefully!
Mitzi Beach A.S.I.D. C.A.P.S. is an award-winning Interior Designer, Author, and 50+ Demographic Marketing & LifestyleSpecialist. Author of the book “Design Smarts, Inspiration for Home + Life.” Mitzi, armed with 30 years experience and a masters degree in interior design, is one of the Design Hounds Top 100 influencers 2018, selected as a member of the prestigious Style Spotters High Point market in North Carolina, as well as High Point Market Design Bloggers Tour, quoted in The Wall Street Journal as an expert in the emerging Aging in Place (AIP) trend. Join her private Facebook group, “Aging Gracefully for the 50+” where she shares weekly acronyms of the SMARTS. Their motto is “We do more for ourselves so we can be more for others.”