WHY Didn’t we do this SOONER? (Aging in Place)

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I took my children on the three hour drive from Seattle to visit my parents and our extended family for Thanksgiving in the Portland/Vancouver area last week.  We had a wonderful dinner and event with 25 people in the extended Murphy family, and the kids – as always – had a great time with their Nana and Papa.

ThanksgivingMy absolute favorite part of the trip was something so simple, yet so profound.  And it had nothing to do with the holiday or family gathering.  It was the 20 minutes I took to install a grab bar on the wall adjacent to the 4 steps up from my parents garage to the landing where you open the door to the laundry room.  Actually it was the resulting comments from my parents over the subsequent 2-3 days we were with them after I put in the grab bar on Wednesday afternoon.  Being thanked numerous times by my mother and father, with comments like “Wow, that is SO HELPFUL”, and “I have used it every time I’ve gone to the garage since you put that in!”  But the best comment of all, and the one I’m most thankful for, was “I feel so much SAFER.  Why didn’t we do that YEARS AGO?”  These comments alone truly warmed my heart, and made the Thanksgiving holiday worth the trip down all by itself!GrabBar

As an only child, and the eventual future caregiver for my parents, being able as a professional (and a son) to make my parents feel SAFER, is the best gift I could ever receive.  As a “Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist”, this was an HONOR and and a VICTORY for sure!  So why DIDN’T they do this YEARS AGO, as they stated after-the-fact?

1) Denial: It’s all to common, and it’s our psychology and mindset.  It’s the biggest challenge the Aging-in-Place expert faces in sharing our services and the value we can provide.  “We don’t need any of that “old people” / hospital crap in our HOUSE!” At least… not YET.  Not Yet.  Not YET… But not yet can become TOO LATE, in an instant!  My mom has already tripped on those stairs 3-4 times before she (thankfully and FINALLY) asked me to find her a product to help in that area of their home.

I have another client who admitted to me that her 75 year old husband, when they recently visited a local home show, actually pushed away a man trying to get their attention to show them a new accessible tub/shower you can step in, sit down, and “close the door” before filling up the tub.  He mumbled “I’m not old enough to need THAT THING”.  We never feel as old as we are, we don’t want to be seen that way, talked to that way, and we’re happy to avoid the conversation – until it’s TOO LATE.

2) Stubbornness: The brother of denial, psychologically, it’s the idea we all have that we don’t need help.  We don’t need assistance.  We can do it by ourselves.  We (and our parents especially) don’t want to be a BURDEN on anyone.  We don’t want to IMPOSE.  We don’t want to BOTHER someone else with our issues, or make them the issues of someone else, especially someone we love – spouse, child, friend, or otherwise.  We are AFRAID to ASK for HELP.

I could go on about the “why’s”, but you get the point.  I’m VERY PROUD of my own parents, and specifically my mother, for reaching a point where she ASKED FOR HELP.  The solution was simple in this case, cost her under $100, took me 20 minutes of my free time, and will likely save them $10,000 minimum at some point in the future.  Think about it – what would a fall that results in serious injury cost them for a trip in an ambulance, a day or two in the hospital, maybe a surgery or some rehab period, etc.  That could EASILY equate to even $50,000 or MORE!  And a $100 investment could avert that potential expense!  Are you getting the idea yet?

MONEY-PileSo let’s zoom out for a moment.  Let’s consider a HELOC loan (Home Equity Line of Credit) of $100,000 against the equity in your home.  Let’s look at a large scale home remodeling project for successful Aging-in-Place.  Let’s make your halls wider, your kitchen “Universally Designed” for easier use by you, for your potential caregiver in the future, and even for your grandchildren when they visit.  Let’s make your master bedroom and bathroom work for you better now and in the future.  Let’s make your HOME make YOU INDEPENDENT LONGER (that’s what you were being so stubborn about, right?)

Here are some round numbers to consider:  A HELOC for $100K at 5% would be approximately a $500/mo. payment.  Let’s even suggest on top of that, you utilize 20 hours per week of personal help with cooking, cleaning, transportation to doctors appointments, etc. at $19/hr from an in-home care agency.  Did you know that BOTH of these costs, compared to the average cost of a private room at an assisted living or nursing home facility (the likely result of denial – a fall and injury or illness typically lands someone in a facility setting) would be a SAVINGS of $30,000 or more, EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!??  Hopefully the picture is getting vividly clear at this point…

SO let’s say (again in round numbers), if a professional designer like ourselves, might charge you $10,000 to design a $100K remodel of your home, and the resulting R.O.I. is realizing the following –

1) An extra TEN + YEARS of INDEPENDENCE in your OWN HOME! (the goal of 89% of those polled by AARP).

2) Resulting savings of $300,000 or MUCH MORE during your retirement years!


At what point will this become a “no brainer”… ?  The MATH works, we just have to get OUT of OUR HEAD, beyond the denial, past the stubbornness, and into a place of clarity and acceptance about the simple fact that WE ALL AGE.  Then seeing that PLANNING costs WAY LESS than WAITING and REGRETTING the result.

Get in touch with us, we can help when you are ready to PLAN for SUCCESS.  #360-440-8475 is my direct line.  More on our design services can be found at ADM Architecture.  We look forward to hearing from you!



Image Credits – 
Thanksgiving: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/thanksgiving-day
Grab Bar: http://www.efaucets.com/detail.asp?Product_ID=R8718P&ca=gpsl&CAWELAID=293967009&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CNXM0–Em7sCFQlafgodSEEA0A
Money: http://coloradopeakpolitics.com/2013/08/02/follow-the-money-initiative-22-funders-in-the-spotlight/money-ii/

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