Aging in Place, Health and Welfare, Interior Design, Senior Safety

Summer Outdoor Ideas for an Aging in Place Couple

Elsie and John are looking at their list of things they want and need in their home for their mature senior living. They know it is usually referred to as Aging in Place, but they don’t want to feel old. They are really looking for a home that is comfortable, is safe for their needs as they continue to age and is low maintenance.Serious Elsie and John

Elsie and John are in a situation where their retirement that was once a very nice retirement is now forcing them to cut back on extras and really watch their pennies. They are worried about their current home this summer because they don’t have extra funds for maintenance and summer cooling needs. Their home is often very hot and stuffy because it is an older home and is not adequately weatherized. John has had a hip replacement and is pretty darn spry for his almost 85 years young but he is not able to complete the needed maintenance. Elsie and John are like many seniors because they have reduced physical flexibility, health issues and a lack of funds.

Elsie and John are sitting at the kitchen table with their list of things they need in their home. “Elsie, I don’t know what you wrote here. My eyes are giving me fits today. Can you read what you wrote?”

“Let me see here, I have been jotting down things you have been rattling off and things that I think of too,” she said. “I think these are geared more toward summertime and the outside-

  • Exterior of the house has to be low maintenance like vinyl siding or brick. I think this is a safety issue too. Neither one of us is fit to be climbing a ladder to paint or whatever.
  • You yelled to me about the slippery wooden steps out front, I think we need to have some type of textured surface or maybe add some of that non-slip tape to the steps.
  • I also wrote about the outside lights since ours is really in a bad location. It is either nice and bright and blinding or if we put a bug light in, it gives off too little light. The glare is horrible no matter what. I think the fixtures should cast light downward and also be easy to change the darn bulbs. Speaking of outside lights, the one by the door is burned out and I can’t reach it to change the bulb. Would you put a frosted one in? That may help for now. Sure wish it lit enough to provide safety and not cause so many shadows. It’s a trip hazard!
  • What is this about street numbers and curb? Oh, street numbers should be easy to read from the curb. We should consider a lighted street number sign. Beth said she had her street numbers painted on the curb too so emergency responders can find her house quickly. I think that’s a good idea also.
  • You had me write down Trex for porches and stairs. What is that?”

Remodel ChoicesJohn looked at Elsie and said, “It’s that Resin-based decking stuff that our son did his deck out of. He said it lasts longer than wood and doesn’t require sealing and/or painting. I think that is what we need to have too.”

“Okay, that sounds like a good idea. I do love their new deck. Let’s see what else is on this list-

  • We need a low-maintenance yard. I hate those weeds in the flower bed out front and the grass is always at the mercy of the grandkids. I would think we would have to have good access to the gas or water shut off valves and hydrants so there shouldn’t be any crazy bushes that grow rampant. I would love to have some of those dwarf varieties that the greenhouse has but they are probably really expensive. Dwarf plants wouldn’t obstruct sidewalks as they grow.
  • I really wish we could get a place that had raised beds built for gardens and flowers for easier access with my bad knees and arthritis. I really miss my flowers,” said Elsie. Bench

“What else should be on here John?”

“I don’t want to have to water. It is getting way too expensive and hard to maintain the green grass. What about a yard like Beth’s, what did she call it? Oh, I know, something like Xeric landscaping. All I know is there is very little work in the hot sun taking care of the yard. That’s what I want,” sighed John.

“So we are talking local plants and stuff that kind of grows wild?”

“Well, not exactly wild, but something that doesn’t have to be watered or trimmed or cut or what have you. That’s what we need,” John looked at the notes Elsie had been writing. “So, do you think we are going to find a house like this?”

“I don’t know John, I sure hope so. We can’t go on like this without making some changes. It isn’t safe and I want to start to enjoy where I live.”

“I know Elsie. Should we go to some more open houses? They might have air-conditioning in the houses and that would be cooler than us sitting here in the heat.”

doorway“Oh, alright, but please change that light bulb at the door. I don’t want to forget and not have a light there,” replied Elsie as she slowly got up from the chair to get ready.

Exterior Aging in Place concepts can help make life easier during the summer for seniors and for everyone. Many Aging in Place ideas are intuitive and just plain common sense. Summer can be a difficult time for seniors but with proper choices and precautions summertime can be an enjoyable and safe time.

Written by Alesha E. Churba, CAPS, CD, of A.E.Churba Design, LLC. Pocatello, Idaho. A.E.Churba is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) writing, designing and decorating with her client’s futures in mind. She can be reached by phone (208)-313-6414, by e-mail at or through her business website or her blog:


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