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Just as we age, our homes age, too.

Posted Sep 12 2008 11:11am

Elinor Ginzler is a fountain of information and a delight to chat with. This AARP Livable Communities expert looks at aging challenges with enthusiasm. Her expertise? Ensuring that home living spaces function as livable communities that address needs across the age span. This includes home design, associated costs, mobility, and home modifications. In a recent AARP study, researchers found that over 85% of 50 plussers want to stay in their home whether retired or not. According to Elinor, “Most 50 plussers don’t want to move. The national myth is that you retire, sell your home and move. In fact less than 10% of the 60 plus population move!”

If you are part of the 85-90% that don’t want to move, then you need to recognize that, just as you are aging, your home is getting older, too. Like you, it may need a little fixing up.

To add to our generational challenges, if you are a young 50 plusser, there is a strong possibility that you have a parent in their early seventies to early eighties. A lot of you are nodding your heads. And if you have reached 65, you may have a parent in their eighties and nineties! (You thought your joints were creaking?) So 50 plus is multi-generational in age span alone.

And if you are a 50 plusser with a parent living with you (or visiting frequently), your home can pose unseen hazards that, with a few simple fixes, can become a safe haven for anyone. In Elinor’s view, “Why wouldn’t you want your house to meet the needs of older family members visiting you?” I have to agree. You may even have a young child or two in the house (not that uncommon – I have a seven year old! You may have grandkids) and need to make your living community child safe as well.

Some of Elinor’s top ten tips? When you read them, you’ll surely say, “That’s plain common sense!” Of course it is. But I challenge you to check YOUR house out and see how safe it is. For example, Elinor says:

Use brighter bulbs in all settings.

Well that is easy, simple…yet how many of you are squinting at the fine print in the dark? Or stubbing your toe on the suitcase you didn’t unpack after your last trip.

Install nightlights in all areas of night activity.

You probably had nightlights for your kids. Inexpensive, easy and very important to avoid midnight falls. Remember, the bigger the “kid,” the harder the fall.

To read all 10 safety tips, head to www.aarp.org/homedesign.

And to receive AARP’s new, free publication, Home Modification: Your Key to Comfort, Safety, and Independent Living, call 1-888-OUR-AARP and ask for publication number D18524. However, when I tried to order my copy, the switchboard was jammed up. So Elinor and the media folk at AARP have made it easier for us by sending a link
http://www.aarp.org/families/home_design/universaldesign/that takes you to an online order form. If you install a nice, bright light above your reading chair, it’ll be an easy read.

Keep your sights on this blog for a forthcoming set of tips from AARP’s Elinor Ginzler on transport and driving at 50 plus.
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