Decreasing the time spent taking care of your home and increasing the time your home takes care of you.
According to a survey conducted by the AARP, 89 percent of people older than 50 wish to remain at home, rather than move to other housing options. The question not being asked is how do you make this possible? At what point does your home hinder you rather than serve you?
I’m a home improvement nut. My idea of exercise is digging a 20′ trench and installing an 8” culvert … by hand. At 46, I can pull that off. At 56? Probably (add a chiropractic adjustment). At 66? I doubt it. Even I will one day be overwhelmed by my home (never, I say). But, between now and then, I can do things that will reduce or prevent that day. This culvert is such an improvement; my annual driveway maintenance will decrease: less washouts, fewer repairs, easier plowing, smoother and safer driving.
As you contemplate improvements in a home that you plan to stay in, ask yourself these questions: Will the improvement I am about to make be one that will last for years to come? How soon will it need to be maintained, repaired or replaced? Is there a better solution? If I spend less, have I spent wisely? Or, has cost-cutting provided short-term gains only to leave me with a costly expense in the future?
Consider this wisdom, “Decisions made in haste are regretted in leisure.”
Here is a short list of home improvements that reduce maintenance. Add to this list as you renovate through Internet searches and conversations with experienced professionals.
- Favor no-maintenance siding on your house such as vinyl, or more environmentally sound, brick or stone. Choose long lasting roofing.
- Favor surfaces and designs that clean easily.
- Favor furniture over built-in. For example, a hallway wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair might look awkward especially if the rest of the home doesn’t have a spacious feel, so, install a bookcase that can be one day easily removed.
- Apply universal design as much as possible.
- Throw stuff out – give up attachment to the things that have no more meaning in your life; gain freedom and clarity in the process for something new.
- If moving, choose a neighborhood that has supplies, services and activities nearby, and one that has useful public transportation.
- Keep choosing access and convenience – if something is going to be difficult to use, don’t get it.
Being motivated by the fear of loosing independence, or a vision of ongoing independence is useful. Grab the impulse (the visioning one feels better) and run with it. You’ll be happy to be one of the people who says, “ I’m glad I did it that way; I’m secure, comfortable and live a great life.”