elderly woman being helped down stairs

Aging at Home: Where Seniors Really Want to Live

Papa, Inc. https://www.joinpapa.com/

Statistics show that older homeowners want to stay in their houses rather than relocate to senior living communities. “Show them how they can adapt a house to make it comfortable for the long term without a major remodel.”

Despite the allure of senior communities that offer a surfeit of amenities, such as pools, gyms, coffee bars, and cooking classes, most older adults—76 percent of Americans age 50 and older—want to remain in a home throughout their golden years, according to an AARP survey.

Helping clients who want to purchase or update a home where they can age in place is a growing niche in real estate and ancillary industries. Agents and brokers like myself, who are Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES) or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) can help this cohort find homes or stay put and modify their homes to address physical or cognitive impairments.

Although most homeowners accept help when a crisis occurs, such as a fall or stroke, most experts say anyone 55 years and older should plan their future living situation long before they have difficulty climbing stairs or stepping into a bathtub. It often doesn’t require an expensive remodel, addition, or redesign that makes a house look institutional. A new category of home auditors can help clients analyze which changes to make. Daniel Edwards, owner of the Handyman Connection in Hanover, Mass., is developing a program to train people to conduct an aging-in-place analysis by providing a checklist of options.

Design Modifications

Better Living Design in Asheville, N.C., and architect Jeffrey DeMure, author of Livable Design, recommend four steps to improve existing homes: putting essential spaces on a main level, including a first-floor bedroom; creating a zero-step entry; ensuring good interior air circulation; and improving kitchens and bathrooms.

When steps lead up to the front door, getting into and around a home can be a logistical nightmare for someone who’s wheelchair bound. Another challenge is interior hallways and doorways that are too narrow for wheelchair users or someone with a walker to pass through. Often these situations occur when an apartment building, condo building, or house was constructed before the Americans with Disabilities Act law was passed in 1990. That legislation dictates measurements for public buildings, such as requiring door openings to be at least 32 inches wide. While private homes don’t have to meet the same criteria, more builders and architects are following the same guidelines so their designs work for everyone. It’s known as universal design.

When it comes to circumventing stairs, a basic aluminum ramp runs $3,000 to $6,000, while a nicer wood design could be double the price, says Edwards. An elevator would be more costly—from $15,000 up—and many homes don’t have the space to accommodate it, says architect Josh Zinder, of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design in Princeton, N.J.

Zinder transformed his father’s home after he had a stroke and worked on architect Michael Graves’ home after he became paralyzed from a spinal infection. He says rooms can also be switched around to avoid taking down walls or putting on additions. Zinder made a living room into a bedroom because it was more accessible to a bathroom, and then made the original bedroom into a den.

Because falls can be devastating for elderly homeowners, Daejin Kim, an aging-in-place expert and assistant professor of interior design at Iowa State University, suggests horizontal rather than vertical storage so homeowners don’t have to use stepstools. Falls can also be avoided by removing area rugs, clutter, and electrical cords that stretch across a room. Switching out carpeting for hardwood, linoleum, or vinyl flooring is also an option, says Rossetti.

As eyesight worsens, painting rooms lighter colors can help, says Jennifer Naughton, executive vice present and risk consulting officer at Chubb. Even lowering one countertop can improve the daily living of a homeowner who’s in a wheelchair, says Dak Kopec, an associate professor of healthcare interior design at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kopec teaches students to design spaces that cater to an aging population. He also recommends modifying outdoor space, if possible, since quality time outside can help increase serotonin and lessen anxiety and depression.

Rossetti says good lighting is also important for performing tasks around the house and making nighttime bathroom visits safer. Many lights now come on automatically at dusk, so no programming is required. Because bending and reaching deep into a cabinet can become harder, items like ShelfGenie’s custom pull-out shelves retrofit base cabinets without a major remodel, says ShelfGenie CEO Andy Pittman.

Several insurance companies are taking advantage of Papa Inc., a digital health company based in Miami that provides college-age “grandkids on demand” who have been vetted to assist older adults with transportation, house chores, technology lessons, meal services, and other needs. The program is also designed to counter the problem of loneliness, particularly among aging adults. Aetna Medicare’s partnership with Papa Inc. rolled out Oct. 1. “The goal is to help those who are frail and struggling to make their homes accessible,” says Dr. Robert Mirsky, Aetna’s chief medical officer. Humana Inc. has also partnered with Papa to provide help for qualifying members of its Medicare Advantage plans.

Many homeowners attempting to save money on household projects are turning to DIY projects. But do-it-yourself fixes can be costly, shows a new survey from Clovered, a home insurance company.

Eighty-seven percent of more than 1,000 homeowners recently surveyed admitted to making a mistake while attempting a do-it-yourself home improvement project. The median amount spent on fixing those DIY mistakes was $137.50, the survey showed. Millennials tended to spend the most in fixing their mistakes, spending up to four times as much as baby boomers—$200 versus $50 post-mistake.

The top DIY mistake across all generations was starting a project without the necessary supplies or tools. Gen Xers tended to admit to picking the wrong paint, and millennials were the most often to skimp on materials, the survey showed.

Clovered remodeling mistakes chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

Thirty-two percent of DIYers admit to having to contact a family member or friend to help them finish a home improvement project. Seventeen percent said they then hired a professional contractor to complete the job.

One in four homeowners who attempted to DIY also injured themselves. The most common injuries were “cutting myself with a sharp tool or project material” (74.9%), “hitting myself with a hammer or other tools” (58.4%), and “tripping over materials” (49%).

Clovered price points chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

For your next open house, perhaps trying some of these ideas. Brought to you by the National Association of Realtors! The orange hues that autumn is known for can be the perfect color pop to spruce up a home’s look. Check out these colorful rooms from designers at Houzz to see how you can offer a subtle touch of pumpkin spice-inspired décor. 

An inviting treat

A selection of orange colored drinks on a plate with a red and white background
More dining room ideas (link is external)

A decorated front stoop

A front porch with some pumpkins as fall decorations
More porch ideas (link is external)

A colorful wreath

A orange fall wreath on a door
Look for home design inspiration (link is external)

Rolled up towels

A set of bathroom shelves with orange towels
Browse home design ideas (link is external)

A warm autumn setting

A family room with fireplace
Discover family room design inspiration (link is external)

Some pumpkin flair

A floral arrangement on front steps with a pumpkin accent
Search porch design ideas (link is external)

A centerpiece of accents

White pumpkins on a kitchen table
Discover kitchen design ideas (link is external)

Realtor Magazine October 4, 2019 Author Melissa Dittmann Tracey

The short list of things people are most afraid; If the home’s staging brings undead design fads back to life—will circular beds ever die?!—buyers are going to scream bloody murder. October may be the month for ghosts and goblins, but no one should confuse your home for the gates of home design hell.

REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog used staging surveys and feedback from professional designers to develop our choices for this year’s scariest home decor trends.

1. Toilet Seat Covers

fuzzy toilet cover

Adding toilet rugs or furry seat covers to the commode may be the worst offense of all. In fact, a 2018 Samsung survey of designers from the United Kingdom found the decorative element to be the most despised home design trend over the past 50 years.


2. Inspirational Quote Art

inspirational art

Tired sayings, such as “love you to the moon and back,” may be losing popularity. “EAT” signs in the kitchen and “LAUNDRY” signs in the laundry room are obvious and redundant, and thankfully, they’re starting to disappear, too. Nineteen percent of respondents to the Samsung survey said inspirational quote art stenciled onto walls was one of their least favorite design trends.


3. Popcorn Ceilings

popcorn ceiling

The textured ceilings have long popped up on designers’ most-hated lists. While statement ceilings are trending, the popcorn ceiling has failed to make a comeback. Beware: It’s cumbersome to remove and often attracts asbestos, however it may pop as one of the nicer homes in a dated neighborhood!


4. Ruffles and Florals

ruffled bedroom set

The 1980s sure did love its floral chintz. The pattern was popular on ruffled bed skirts, curtains, and furniture. While bigger floral prints have made a comeback, the smaller and ruffled versions have not. Twenty-eight percent of designers called floral chintz furniture one of the biggest design horrors of the past 50 years, according to the Samsung survey. Take a look at this home that went viral in April on Twitter for all the wrong reasons: pink and stenciled cabinets as well as an abundance of floral ruffles.


5. Wallpaper Borders

kitchen wallpaper border

The wallpaper border hung at the edge of walls, offering a touch of design without the commitment of wallpapering the entire room. Twelve percent of designers call it one of the worst trends ever, according to the Samsung survey. While ivy and floral wallpaper borders may now be outdated, wallpaper itself is not—particularly for your ceiling.


6. Hollywood Vanity Lights

vanity lights

They may have made you feel like a star, but the placement of bulging bulbs above the bathroom mirror has fallen out of favor. The harsh lighting has been replaced with warmer, softer fixtures like wall sconces.


7. Round Beds

round bed

Furniture with curves is a re-emerging trend, but it never should have included beds. These space-age beds trended in the 1960s. Seventeen percent of designers placed “round beds” on their hate list, according to the Samsung survey, and try to find linens and bedspreads!


8. Wood Paneling

wood paneling

Dark brown wood paneling was a popular and affordable design option for walls in the 1960s and ’70s. The outdated look can put a room in an instant time warp. Still, wood paneling has experienced a comeback, but more modern options include shiplap and lighter wood tones. Usually, these items are used as an accent and not for the entire room. For example, West Elm offers a trendier adhesive wood paneling for walls and reclaimed weathered wood finishes for backsplashes.


9. Vertical Blinds

vertical blinds

While vertical blinds served as a practical solution for window coverings in the 1990s, designers now think the trend can make a room look outdated. The trendier choice nowadays: curtains—or better yet, bare windows that let natural light flow in.


10. Artificial Fruit

fake grapes

That bowl of fake pears and grapes wasn’t really fooling anyone back in the ’80s and ’90s. Try a real bowl of fruit, such as apples or lemons, as a centerpiece. Real fruit is a stager’s favorite trick to dress up a countertop.