This article originally appeared in The Time of Your Life special section, Spring 2016.
The 25th annual Older Americans Conference is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 at the Elks Lodge (4131 Pine Road NE, Bremerton). Is is free and open to the public.
BY TERRYL ASLA
No matter how old (or young) you are, you need to read Aaron Murphy’s book, “Aging in Place,” before you buy or rent your next home.
I wish this book had been available back in 2012 when my wife and I made our last move.
As a professional in the senior housing field, I was determined that we buy find a home and location with features that would enable us to live there the rest of our lives; what Miller calls aging in place and defines as “the concept that you can and should be able to stay in your residence or current living situation, or choose the location of your residence and your community, for the remainder of your life.”
So, I thought I knew what we needed. What I didn’t know how to do was convince my wife.
To say that she didn’t share my concerns is putting it too mildly. The more adamant I became, the more resistant she became, at one point threatening to buy a three-story house with the bedroom on the top floor and the bathroom in the basement, if I didn’t shut up about aging in place.
In retrospect, her concern wasn’t intellectual (she is way smarter than am I), but emotional. Like so many baby boomers, she didn’t want to admit she would ever be a senior. Eventually she realized the convenience features that make it easier to age in place are good for people of all ages; wide doors that are easy to navigate in a wheelchair also make it easier to move a big piece of furniture, too. And we wound up buying a house (or in our case a houseboat) that had most of the convenience features we may someday need.
Still, I could have saved myself, and her, several years of grief and arguments if Murphy’s book had been available — especially the section on how introduce the topic (“The Soft Startup,” page 34).
A Kitsap County architect and certified aging-in-place specialist, Murphy doesn’t spend a lot of time and pages on all of the possible physical features of a home designed for all ages. Rather, he focuses on the process of deciding why to buy or build such a home and how to get it done successfully. As he points out, planning ahead can help you avoid having to move to a retirement community or assisted living facility and, in the process:
• Save your hard-earned money.
• Save your lifestyle in your home.
• Extend your finances during retirement.
• Extend your happiness, longevity, and safety at home.
• Save your independence, your dignity, and your right to choose your housing situation (page 53).
He walks the reader through the process in a very logical and readable manner, including a number of real-life stories that put a human face on the facts and figures.
First he provides the reader with background concerning the explosion in the number of older adults. Then, he explains what successful aging in place should look like. He then moves into the “how-to” process: how to start the discussion with your family; how to be an active listener; the importance of planning ahead and hiring a professional team to help; and, finally, choosing the right community.
If, like me, you are among the nine-out-of-10 people who want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, read this book.
“Aging in Place: 5 Steps to Designing a Successful Living Environment for the Second Half of Life,” by Aaron Murphy (2014). Published by Entrepreneur Publishing, Poulsbo, Washington. Available online at Amazon.com.