Aging In Place – Incremental Improvements, D.I.Y.

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I titled this blog entry weeks ago, and it sat in my “drafts” folder awaiting my inspiration.  Today I found that, as I listened to an interview video / show where the two national thought leaders that I respect most to date in the industry were sitting together on the same couch, talking “Aging In Place” to the show’s host.  Dr. Patrick Roden, RN and PhD from Portland, OR. (owner of and Mr. Louis Tenenbaum of Maryland, author of MetLife’s “Aging In Place 2.0” were sharing their intelligence with the grace and eloquence that they always bring.

These two gentlemen have asked me (Aaron D. Murphy, Architect / CAPS and Managing Editor here at Empowering The Mature Mind) to join them on stage next spring to present the different views and angles we each bring to the “Aging In Place” discussion based our varied backgrounds, expertise, and experience.  I’m honored and blessed to be asked by these already established national thought leaders, to join them at the ASA’s “Aging In America” conference in Chicago next March, 2013.

They both spoke of the idea that we, the professionals in this emerging industry tied to the “Silver Tsunami” as it’s being called (10,000 people turning 65 years old EVERY DAY), should be a part of the TEAM SOLUTION, we can help orchestrate a planned and thought out overall solution for the specific client and the specific home.  They also point out that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, or even tackled “all at once” if you are willing to PLAN AHEAD.

So what if you were to incrementally start “picking things off” the list of upgrades that will increase the likelihood that you can stay in the house you want to be in, for longer than if you didn’t do these things?  Are you ready to grab a paper and pen, and start taking notes for your next trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s?

Remember, just pick ONE of these areas / groups of items at a time.  Maybe tackle one per quarter, or per year, over the next few years.  The end result, on a budget, would be a house that is better suited for the years ahead.  It will work better for everyone, including visitors, potential caregivers, family members, and even the next buyer, not just for the current resident.

This is about you keeping your independence, or keeping your folks independent (and out of YOUR HOUSE if that’s a bonus goal!).  This could be a great Dad’s Day / Mother’s Day gift to yourself, or for your own mom or dad.  It could be a gift you give for Christmas, to get all of the (FILL IN THE BLANK) changed out at your folks house, as you’ve heard them complaining about it and want to help them at their house (and keep them from moving in with you!).

Some of the more simple areas you could tackle first, based on where most problems occur in the home related to safety, longevity for the client in the home, and general ease of use in the house, are things such as:

1) Flooring: “The SLIP Factor”: Removing throw and area rugs.  Changing and upgrading wet areas (bath, etc.) for slip resistance in flooring (replacing or additional covering finishes / materials on the existing floor).  Even re-arranging of furniture (and thinning out) can be of great advantage in getting around in the home

2) Plugs, Plates, and Switches: The old light toggle switches… OUT.  Paddle switches with
dimmer, IN.  If you can afford it, there are better heights and locations as well for most outlets and light switches as our flexibility and mobility changes, and that’s not where the spec home developer / builder put it, at “standard” height.

3) Hardware, Handles, Knobs:  Door KNOBS, round… OUT (they’re tough to grip / turn / pull on).  Lever Handles, IN.  Small cabinet hardware that are hard to grip, hold, pull… OUT.  Larger bar handles, cup & half-moon type pulls with larger surface areas, IN.

4) Guides & Glides: “Ease of Use” mobility of tracks and moving parts (cabinets, shower

doors, etc.) = UPGRADE doors and drawers, including shelving inside cabinets that can be adapted to “come out to you” (or even come down from upper cabinets, out from hidden corner cabinets), lock in place securely when extended, and move easily in/out and back into place with reduced / minimal effort.


This is just a beginning list, and some simple ideas on where to start.  For a full list of ideas and a preliminary abbreviated “home checklist”, you can sign up for the newsletter on our Empowering The Mature Mind website, and that checklist is a FREE GIFT to you!

We will be continuing this discussion in upcoming blogs here at EtMM, and also plan to start recording a series of short informational videos by room, or by topic (like above) with a much more detailed description of options and solutions for all areas of the home, both inside and out.

If you have specific questions about your own solution needs or house modification ideas that are client specific, you can contact us to continue this conversation by email, phone, or site visit.  Get in touch!  Email us –

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