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  • AARP Polls Say YES. Your House Says NOPE.

    Aaron D. Murphy

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    AARP polls say yes, but your house says not ready. Did you know that a recent AARP poll revealed a staggering majority percentage-wise of adults prefer to age in their own home? But is your home ready for that? The answer, nope. Hi, I'm Aaron Murphy, an architect specializing in design support aging in place. I'm a speaker, author, and founder of Forever Home. Today I wanna talk about those statistics and why despite that massive majority in the United States who wished age in place, 96% of our homes are not prepared. It's not rocket science, you guys. We all personally understand why this data from polling is so high. I've seen it as high as 89% on first ask, ARP polls saying, I want age in place. The number is still over 80%, even if someone said they needed some assistance with an ADL, activity of daily living for occupational therapists, things like cooking, cleaning, driving, et cetera. The choice is driven by comfort, the quest for continued independence, freedom of choice, i.e. autonomy, and familiarity. The way we explain this in presentations, both B2B and B2C for business coaching, is that you wanna stay where you love. It's your home, it's garden, it's pet, it's memories, it's community. It's just that simple. Change gets harder as we get older. I have four parents from 74 to 83 right now, I know. But avoiding the discussion will force unwanted change. So let's talk about the lesser of two evils. And we need to start talking about it now. Most homes are designed for the young, able-bodied, right-handed, perfect height, perfect weight, perfect sight, perfect hearing. But that's overlooking the evolving needs of our aging residents. If our housing stock, 95% of it, spec-built by the builder, then it's built for everyone, which inherently means it's built for no one in particular. Although the top spec builders in the US will openly admit their product is for the first and second time home buyer, but they're missing the boat with this boomer consumer and the adult child, that whole family unit, adult children who are over 45 now and are starting to have to make decisions with their folks or for their folks. So A, that's a huge percentage of the population. And B, by the way, the most wealthy demographic group in the history of the US, both by inheritance and career earnings, boomers and their families. But many houses lack basic accessibility and safety features that everyone's gonna likely need someday in the future. Grab bars and bathrooms, step-free entrances at houses and showers and user-friendly designs that just work for everyone of a varied stature or ability. Even a spec house's interior door widths don't even work at 2'6 wide for the typical person that might eventually be using a cane or a walker or a wheelchair. Houses don't offer flexibility to adapt to changing needs the way they're built right now. Whether it's mobility, health, mental impairment, you guys, it's easy to frame a three foot wide door before you frame a two foot six door, but your house doesn't have that. It should. Planning and modification behind the walls where it's five cents more to think about it now versus a dollar to deal with it later. That's good design. It's feature flexed. That's the right way to plan a house that can change with you for decades to come in all chapters of your life. We designed this way for all our clients at our architecture firm in Seattle. Why? Because I've honed this trust and rapport building sales message over 15 years of experience. I'll say to them, is there about to spend $250,000 minimum on an addition or 500 or more thousand dollars on our new home? Any chance you'll be living here in 30 years? The answer is always yes, it's possible. So I always get to talk about aging in place and universal design. Remember the spec builders covering the under 40 purchaser who's shopping on price, square foot, and basic bedroom, bathroom math. The 40 plus consumer is who comes to my office. Therefore, we get to talk immediately about being 70 plus age-wise in this home project we're about to design for them. See how I did that? So offer practical advice on modifications. Simple changes can make a huge difference. Think about the low-hanging fruit that gets you in the conversation. Let's just switch doorknobs to lever-style door handles so you could open it with an elbow or the back of a hand. Hire toilets for comfort. Walk in showers. Start with those low-barrier acceptance items that are that low-hanging fruit and it makes sense for everybody. Start with the no-brainer on your sales pitch. Then we can get into the depth of the discussion if and where it's needed on a client by client basis because we built trust and rapport along the way with them. Did you know that white vertical surfaces cause vertigo in Alzheimer's patients? Did you know that glare to a 90-year-old is 200 times worse than it is for a 20-year-old? Right, you didn't. That's why you consult professionals. I know where to put a grab bar per the ADA code, but your OT knows where to put it based on your strengths and weaknesses. It's a team effort. Embrace universal design. This approach makes homes accessible and comfortable for all ages and abilities. That's what's equitable, accessible, and inclusive. 75% of what we just bake right into our design is just good universal design. It actually disappears. You don't even know it's there. You just know it worked inherently well. The other 30% is going to be based on peeling that onion, getting to real truths through active listening and breaking down some silos between industries so we can all hold hands for better solutions. There is enough business for all of us. Let's work together for best solution. I want to talk to your OT, your GC, your CPA, your CFP. It all matters. How are you going to fund it? How are you going to get it built? That's big picture thinking. And that's what's needed in the new longevity forecast. Discuss cost-effective ways to modify homes. Some modifications can be really pricey. We've designed a gurney that takes somebody on roof trusses from their bed to the shower because they are fully quadriplegic. Or it's a grab bar, or it's better lighting, or it's color changes in your paint. The spectrum's huge. Ask professionals. Look for the barrier of entry that's low for early acceptance and adoption for concept while you're building relationship. This is true if you're the adult child also, talking to your parents. Talk to them just like we would or ask for help because the stranger is the expert. Just like retirement planning, modify your home for aging in place requires foresight. Start small, plan for gradual change. And then you can broach bigger subjects like lighting or electrical, plug switches and heights and all of that stuff that comes. Maybe smarter appliances. Maybe eventually then you can talk. Home monitoring and remote health monitoring. The transition takes time. After the fall, it's just too late. Then the emotions and the other costs get in the way of the discussion. I have a great example of this with my own folks. My mom tripped and fell coming into the laundry room from their garage four or five steps. I said to mom, I'm not bringing the grandkids down unless you show me a picture you took on your phone that has a grab bar from Lowe's and a drill driver sitting on those steps waiting for me to install it. So we came down for Thanksgiving because she sent me the picture and I put it in, the next morning it's my dad who rides his bike 30 miles a week, comes in from taking the recycling out. He's like, hey, I used that bar you put in, that really worked well, we should have done that years ago. You know the drill, I'm bashing my head against the wall because I've been saying it a while, but it works. And you don't know you need it until it's there and it works well. The desired age and place is clear. It's common among families and loved ones. Our houses are woefully unprepared. We have to start modifying our housing stock and building new homes correctly for the future. So we're creating safe, comfortable, and accessible spaces for our later years and for all our family members in an equitable and inclusive way. You can't do this during a hospital stay after a fall. It's too late to get a design, a permit, and a remodel. If you're considering aging in place, now's the time to assess and adapt your home. Call a professional in your area. Get your home or your folks home assessment done by a specified certified designer, contractor, or occupational therapist. Feel free to contact me for personal advice. And don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel at Forever Home for more insights on making your house age ready for the new longevity. Kids today are being told the plan to live to 120. Your house is still being built the way they built houses with the GI Bill after World War II. Your spec builder's not thinking about it. They don't seem to care yet. So we need to. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed the video, please click like on YouTube and please come join our community at Sign up for our newsletter to get tips and tricks as professionals and homeowners. Stay tuned, stay informed, and let's create homes that grow with us and for us into a successful future. Thanks. Have a great day.

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