Aging in Place, Health and Welfare, Senior Safety

Finding a Home to Age in Place

July 2011 024

July 2011 021

Elsie and John are searching for a home they can live in safely and comfortably, something commonly referred to as aging in place.  They are in their late 70’s and 80’s and are entering what is termed as old-old age.  Things are not easy for them any longer.  They have reduced strength and many health problems that accompany old age.  Both are mentally doing okay but physically, they are having some challenges.

In addition to having some physical challenges associated with getting older, they are on a fixed income that just doesn’t go as far as it once did.  Their savings is all but depleted.  Elsie is still driving and works part-time to help make ends-meet in addition to getting some social interaction.  Elsie and John are not sure what they are going to do when Elsie can no longer work or if her job is eliminated with the current poor economic conditions.

Elsie and John have been looking for a home that will be safe for them as they live out their lives.  Their current home has two floors, small doorways and is too much to keep up.  Elsie is running into some hip problems and has been doing physical therapy hoping to strengthen her legs.  John has already had a hip replacement and is walking with a slight shuffle. 

Elsie and John have been attending several open-houses and looking at homes for sale in the area.  There aren’t many options open to them where they live.  They live in a smaller town that has a population of 50,000.  The town is not progressive and has not taken many steps to aid seniors trying to age in place.  The homes on the market are older and not conducive to aging in place safely: the newer homes have high maintenance finishes, many levels and high price tags.  The cost of renovating is very expensive and our couple is frustrated.

“Elsie, I am getting tired of these open-houses you keep dragging me to every weekend.  They aren’t any better than where we are and they are so expensive.  I don’t want to have to move in a house and have to do all kinds of things so we can live there.”

“I know,” sighed Elsie.  “I am not sure where to go next.  We have been looking around for months now and things are just not getting better.  Our list of requirements is getting long and we are not finding half of them in any of the homes.  I just don’t understand why no-one is making low maintenance a priority when they are building or remodeling.” 

“I just don’t think builders know or understand what would be the best choices for older folks.  I think they are building spec. homes that sell to young families.  We just cannot keep up with a home like a young family can.  I can’t reach on top of a stove to a microwave anymore!  I would need a stool to just get to the right height,” said John as he eased into his recliner and pushed the button on the controller to make it maneuver into seated position. 

“Not to mention the shiny surfaces we keep seeing.  I can’t keep that clean and it really bothers my eyes.  It would certainly bother your eyes with your beginning Macular Degeneration,” exclaimed Elsie.

“The shiny surfaces are harder on my Dad 3-10eyes.  I can’t get over all the tile I am seeing either.  I drop a coffee cup at least once a week and the tile floor makes it shatter everywhere.  Tile is such a hard surface, it hurts my legs to stand on it for any length of time.  I would love to find a home with some good old fashioned vinyl flooring or even that click in place laminate flooring our daughter has.  Speaking of coffee cups breaking, would you like a cup of coffee Elsie?”  John pushed the control button of his recliner and it slowly rose to a position that John was able to stand up from.  He shuffled over to the coffee pot and slowly poured some of the coffee into his coffee cup; spilling a couple drops on the counter in the process.

Elsie“No, I am okay right now.  But you know what?  That’s just it John.  It seems what we want and need are old fashioned and no one is doing those kinds of surfaces.  When is the last time we saw laminate counter tops, vinyl or easy care flooring, and things like that?  We just aren’t finding those things.  The sad thing is, we can’t even afford to remodel to put those sorts of things in.  I really wish people would think about our generation and recognize that what we need are safer and easier to maintain surfaces,” sighed Elsie as she rested her head on her hand.

“I know Elsie, I know.  We just can’t give up though.  We will find something or we will just have to continue adapting and hoping for the best.” 


3 thoughts on “Finding a Home to Age in Place”

  1. Congratulations, Alesha. Just had to visit your site after your Top Senior Site #1 rank. I absolutely love what you’ve done on this post and will link to it from my blog (#16), which focuses on many aspects of aging well, including “Help Aging Parents: Can They (and we) Grow Old and Remain at Home?” (–written after visiting a town of 1,000 where people help each other to make things work out (and further resulted in what I believe are some helpful ideas). Susan

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