In Pursuit of Gracious Aging: Rethinking Aging in Place

In Pursuit of Gracious Aging: Rethinking Aging in Place

A year of Covid has left us all feeling more vulnerable. We can do everything right, yet sometimes it’s not enough. At Guideway, many of our clients took action by creating or updating their Living Trusts. Couples approaching retirement are making important life decisions. Will they age in place, move to be closer to their kids or is a retirement community the right solution?

In a The New York Times article, a “throuple” was making plans for aging in place

A “throuple” is a new term–three people in a romantic relationship—in this case for 15 years. The pandemic forced the retirement issue for this group. They felt some urgency to find a retirement solution now so it will be ready when they need it. While they live in Florida, their desired location is New England, where they have friends and family.

They ended up buying an unimproved 1.7-acre lot of restored tidal marsh that featured changing scenery, natural light and an array of wildlife. When it came to design, there were a few nonnegotiables: Enough privacy to allow for plenty of windows, tidal marsh views, an easily maintained home and an eco-friendly yard.

Gracious aging: Being able to comfortably and safely age was the primary concern

“This is the first time we have worked for a three-person couple for whom gracious aging was part of the discussion from the outset,” said Rustam Mehta, a founding partner of GRT Architects, the Brooklyn firm that designed the 3,300-square-foot house.

The home embodies universal design principles

The one-story house follows universal design principles that are also senior-friendly–open spaces, minimal stairs, wider doorways and hallways. The three-bedroom home is wheelchair accessible and barrier free. There are no steps or thresholds across the entire principle floor. No tubs–all three bathrooms feature zero-threshold showers. For the country’s swiftly aging boomer population, this attention to safety is essential to healthy home life.

What usually happens: Changes are made in response to a fall or accident

More often than not, when homes are upgraded to accommodate seniors, changes are hurriedly made in response to a fall, accident or medical diagnosis. For the aging baby-boomer population that intends to age in place, now is a great time to start turning homes into comfortable, safe places to grow old.

Upgrades can start with easy changes:

  • Installing task lighting in kitchens to accommodate fading eyesight.
  • Building multi-height countertops to allow people of all abilities to both stand and sit while working in the kitchen.
  • Investing in nonslip tiles and grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Relocating select electrical outlets to be 18-inches to 24-inches high, making them accessible from wheelchairs.

Bigger changes can include enlarged doorways

Allowing for wheelchair access or a walker and adding ramps to eliminate stairs are essential changes. Many small modifications can be made that are inexpensive or have no associated cost. Evaluate your home for trip hazards. Unstable area rugs, cracked and loose tiles and flooring, both indoor and out.

According to Dr. Rodney Harrell, the vice president for Family, Home and Community at AARP, “The vast majority of people want to stay in their homes as they age, and most homes in this country aren’t designed to allow that to happen.” Start with the simple things that are easy and inexpensive to make your home safe.

Is it time to update your Living Trust?

Many of our senior clients created their Living Trust eight or more years ago. There’s a good chance a lot has happened since then—births, deaths, divorce, investments and new jobs. Our Trust package includes a Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and a Will. We guide you through the process and we prepare the legal documents. Schedule an appointment with Guideway today. We guide you through it and we prepare the legal documents.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.