Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ageing Boomers

Recently read an interesting article that mentioned starting as of this January, here in the US, every six minutes another "baby boomer" turns 65. Now I suppose that is only logical as starting in 1946 for roughly the next five years, a baby was born every six minutes!!! Only figures, right!!

The article's main focus was that the "boomers" were finding themselves in a "bind" with three main issues: financial security for the remaing years, concerns for health care, and "not being like their folks" inactive with the direction of "old folks" housing.

I'm not a professional in either of the first two, but definitely am in the third. (And, as an aside, I'm in the same position!! so I relate to exactly those feelings.) I keep reading/hearing from several different sources that the new "boomers/seniors" prefer to live out their remaining years living in their current home. They like the neighborhood, don't want to loose those memories associated with their home, etc., etc., all kinds of reasons.

What they seem to refuse to address, however, is that they are changing, physically esp., but their home is not. Their home is not changing w/their changing life-style needs. Further, they feel they do not need to address the situation now, deal w/it when such becomes a problem. Well. understand that to some extent, no one really wants to deal w/more problems; but, when your home is on fire is not the time to wish you had taken out better fire coverage insurance...Too late.

Waiting until a "need" occurs, or worse yet, a crisis, fits that same description. Urgency sets in and all to often wrong things are done for all the right reasons.

Boomers/seniors, your needs ARE going to change and your home needs to change w/u. Your sight, hearing, maneuverability, accessibility are at the top of the list. Barrier free living, addressing all four, will become essential.

This need may be recognized, but in addition to "facing it when it becomes a problem" an other issue is introduced: adapting. Humans (and animals) have an innate ability to "adapt" to their surroundings, especially if changes come on slowly. We subliminally adjust....that is we just do it w/out really thinking about it: what it is, is what it is. What is not realized, however, is that doing such introduces subliminal stress. Adding more stress to one's life is usually not a good thing. Psychologists often point out that this stress negatively adds to "in-home" relationships which in turn get transferred to "other issues". Having such stress is NOT necessary.

In this blog I address the many items, changes that need to be made and suggest ways of obtaining such. And, yes, I address cost issues as well. Look back over the previous postings and check back for further insights. You truly CAN live out your years, independently, in your own home.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

News Flash!!

News Flash!!!!! BOOMERS.....Woodstock is gone, not coming back. No matter how you wish the "what, me worry" carefree days, think about tomorrow, tomorrow, times would last for ever.....they didn't. Yup, you try to ignore "tomorrow" w/HGH, high potency vitamins, botox, etc. You still believe you can go rock climbing, surfing, mountain biking, run a marathon, etc. But not for long. Soon thoughts of climbing up a ladder to paint the house will not be so appealing. Just getting around, bending over, getting up from a sofa, is going to be an effort. What about that super eye sight. One thing is are going to age. Well, of course you might not, but that's not a good solution!!!

It's like our current economic situation, no one really saw it coming. Thought the "good times" would just keep on going.......DIDN'T.
Never envisioned the effects of it......Just like aging.

The time to plan for a potential house fire is NOT while it is burning. Not the time to start thinking about escape routs. Not the time to wish you had expanded your insurance coverage. You need FORWARD planning....Just like aging.

Adult "children" of Boomers......With out proper/adequate preparation, your parents future path is set.......YOU ARE IT!!!

PLAN...........PREPARE.......NOW. Don't be caught in a crisis.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

thinking the "green" of your home

Home Improvement/modifications
thinking the "green" of your home (pun intended)

Seems people are of the opinion that since we had decent rain this past season (actually only back to normal) that the drought is over!! Nope.
People must still be "water wise". Are you doing your part???

You all have seen/heard the spots on TV/radio regarding water conservation so we'll not address those. But; watering your YARD is a topic needing attention. Why do I mention this.....I see far too much miss-use, miss-application, and far too much over watering. Let's start right at the beginning: Sprinklers.

If you are still using a system that is more than 10 years old, you are probably wasting water.....Esp. if you are using those ole round, broadcast heads that are spaced about every five to ten feet apart all over your yard. These broadcast types are more soakers than sprinklers. Change these to rotors. Yes, the rotors are more expensive at initial purchase (why the "gardeners" don't use them) but; they are 10 times more efficient and save 100s of gals. of water per year. Main benefit: these spray intermittently allowing for the water to soak-in, and by adjusting the run times, provides your yard w/the moisture it needs and not just become a soaked sponge.

Being water conscious applies to your choice of grass and plants. Shift to drought tolerant types. For instance; drought tolerant tall fescue only needs watering every other day. The length of time for watering depends upon your system. To establish the time, need to do a "test." Place a wide -mouthed can in the yard. Turn on the system. Watch the time it takes to accumulate an inch and half of water in the can. Stop. That is your run time. For a continuing "test", step on the grass, press down. If the grass springs back, it's ok. If not, slightly increase your watering time. Demand will very from "winter" to hot, dry summer.

Note: drought tolerant plantings does NOT mean "desert landscaping". there are lots of choices.

Different plants require different amounts of water. Place like plants together so they can be watered appropriately, don't mix together. This way you do not over/under water causing some plants to fail. In planting beds, use drip and/or soaking lines where ever possible (usually everywhere!!). Do not use the broadcast types. Put the water only where it is needed.

Are you spraying your house, fence, sidewalk/street....why? No matter how much you water 'em, they are not going to grow....!!! Not only does this waste water, such shall cause damage to wood and to stucco. Yes, you may need to relocate some lines, but that is a small effort for the benefit gained.

Water early in the morning: best is between 5-8. Contrary to what you may hear, do not water your grass in the evening nor at night. Plants and soil will "surface" hold the water until day time drying. This causes root rot and mold/mildew...esp. w/roses. If additional watering is deemed necessary water again round 2pm. NO, there is no evidence to support that watering in the day time only creates evaporation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Part II

Continuing with our informational series on home improvements for a more livable, supportive home environment.

The underlying premise continues to be: having your home adapted to you rather than you having to adapt to your home. As this is an "age-in-place journal", the information is targeted to Seniors wishing to live out their years in their current home. However, with the above stated direction, living spaces can be easily used, enjoyed by everyone of all ages, of all physical capabilities.

It should also be mentioned that this information should be applied to new homes as well.

We have been directing out initial attention to the kitchen and asking some "whys". We have established the fact that in reality there is no established paradigm. You can have your kitchen assembled any way you want and need it to be.

Now we are going to get more specific.

Those counter tops, cabinet heights; can (should) be set at different heights (four such actually) depending on the use.
  • 30" height. Great for seated persons, i.e.; wheelchairs. Great for kids snack/home work areas. Sinks for person under 5'-8".
  • 36" height. The traditional height for standard work spaces.
  • 40" height. Great for raising that dishwasher. Be amazed what the extra height does for that bending/lifting (45" even better!!). Excellent for under-counter trash and recycle bins. Also allows for deep roll-out drawers.
  • 45" height. For serving and eating counters. Works well for extended height base cabinets allowing for additional shelf depth for those cooking pots and specialty appliances.

That oven? Oh yes; that oven. What height should that be? First, determine who is most likely to be the primary user. The center of the oven should be at the height of their horizontally out stretched arms. Lifting/placing should not vary from 6 to 12 inches up or down. Placing the bottom of the oven at 36" height and having a roll-out table underneath at 30" greatly increases the working space and provides support for placing/removing.

What's with the oven-over-oven, double oven bit? Certainly can't meet the height specification. I'm 6'-5", I would have a difficult time with the upper unit that high. With today's combination ovens: conventional, convection, radiant all in one unit; is the double oven really needed. And esp. with micro-waves that can double as ovens. If determined that two units are needed, then place them side-by-side vs. above/below.

Consider side-opening units rather than drop-down unless you are used to using the doorway as a working shelf (see above comment). Side-opening units are much easier to access, esp. from a seated position. Even from standing position one doesn't have to reach over the oven front.

Grouping the cabinets together from floor to ceiling (or there about) works very well. Thank you very much!! These areas are great for roll-out pantries and bulk storage.

An other roll-out; how about having a step roll out from under the cabinet in the toe-kick space for getting to those "out-of-reach" areas. This is much safer than those fold-up step stools.

Previously in Part I as one of the "whys"...wall cabinets at a certain height above the counter. Don't have to be. Nothing says you can't set them right on the counter. There are "hutch type" cabinets for just this purpose.

Granted, in some areas you do need about 18" of clearance for work space, but that does not have to apply every where.

In the cabinets that are above the counter, consider drop-down, spring loaded shelf inserts. These are easy to grasp and lower, lock into place. Release the lock and they slowly return on their own back into the cabinet!! What will "they" think of next??!! about motorized cabinets that raise/lower at the touch of a button!! Great for wall units and sink faces. Easy access and can be set at any one's workable height, sitting or standing. No bending, stretching...and no step stool required. Now there you go!!!!

A note on the refrigerator. If you are set on having cabinets above, pull them out flush with the face of the refrig., and you can use shallow depth cabinets. Consider using a "built-in" style unit. These are flush with the line of the cabinets. Then can use full depth cabinets. Makes getting to the overheads easier as well as provides more floor space. Consider side-by-side units vs. over/under compartments.

To be comprehensive, need to at least mention faucets and electrical outlets. Faucets should be of the single lever style so they are functional for everyone. If it is difficult for some one to reach faucets mounted on the rear of the sink, they can be made to operate from the face of the cabinets.

Electrical outlets do not have to be only located on the wall. These can also be mounted on the face of the cabinets. Again, makes them accessible to everyone.

There are more things we can discuss about the kitchen, but enough for now.....Well, do, however, need to at east mention lighting, and proper lighting in a kitchen IS NOT a ceiling full of recessed can spite of what you hear,see. 1. Such does NOT do any thing for "workability" in the kitchen. 2. Just adds clutter, cost, NO benefit. 3. They are just down right tacky and UGLY.

As lighting is a whole subject in its self, especially kitchen lighting, guess have to leave that for up-coming topic. Suffice it to say at the moment: Rule #1. Lighting needs to be adequate but NOT dominating. Rule #2. Lighting needs to be placed where it does the most good for the purpose intended. Rule #3. Proper lighting is a combination of different lighting techniques working together to provide a unified result. We shall discuss in detail at that up-coming part of the series.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting back on the informational series on home improvement/home modifications. Gads, found it is probably easier to write a book than shorten things up for a blog!!!! But here goes!!!

PART I Home improvements/home modification for a more livable, supportive home environment.

Let's think realistically about home design; homes you've lived in, homes you have visited and model homes you have seen. Observation: aren't most "reworks" (even new homes) focused mostly on: providing space, adding/subtracting square footage, &/or updating furnishing, fixtures, appliances?

The focus is on the style, configuration, appearance of the STRUCTURE, isn't it. Even that "curb appeal" thing. Little, if any, focus is directed to LIFE-STYLE. How you (some one) function in a home; how you interact w/others. How best to compose the various elements, arrangements to assist you in your day-to-day living.

How many homes are designed with these governing principles in mind:
  • mobility and interaction
  • ergonomic usability
  • safety
  • functionality
  • adaptability
  • comfort

Why not???? Aren't the "design principles" simply focusing on such as room arrangements, fireplaces, fancy kitchens (heard some designers say just put in granite tops and SS appliances, some one will go for it) big bathrooms (need?). And don't most of these "principles" follow good ole "conventions"; designing one home after another just the "way it has always been done"? Seen one, seen 'em all. What's with that? Are we all that identical that one "fits all"?

If that's the case, why are there so many different vehicles on the road. All designed/built with different people, different uses in mind. Shouldn't that also apply to homes, esp. custom homes, custom remodels.

Let's focus on the kitchen. There is a particular national association that has put forth established "design standards" for how one is to put together a kitchen. Is that the paradigm from which not to deviate? Do you figure you use your kitchen exactly like everyone else does? THOUGHTS:

Why do counter tops all have to be set at certain height, and all AT that same height?

Why do wall cabinets have to be a certain height above the counter and in a certain place? And so high on the wall. How about that above the refer cabinet..(.how many of you know what's in yours!!! When is the last time you used it!!!)

Why can't wall cabinets be grouped together from the floor up?

Why do dishwasher have to be set way down on the floor (is that convenient to reach)?

Why do ovens,especially if double ovens, cook tops have to be set so high (low), or the sink for that matter.

Why do designers think a ceiling blasted full of can lights is so great (certainly not essential..just expensive)

Why put the refer in the middle of the kitchen so every one must walk through to even get a drink.

Are "kitchen offices" necessary with today's laptops/phones?

How's this for starters!!!! Fact is: NONE of these things have to be a certain way. You actually can have your kitchen assembled, configured any way you want, need it to be!! How would you figure a physically challenged person could use a "standards" conventionally defined kitchen?

Stay tuned!!!! we have the rest of the house to go yet!!!! (TBC)

Friday, April 2, 2010

home improvement

Home improvement/home modifications. Notice of up-coming five part informational series which shall cover how home modifications, improvements can/should compliment, assist your living. How to have your home "work" for you to better your lifestyle and usage; adjusting it to your needs vs. the normal conditions of: here is your house, you adapt to it as best you can.

This series is especially applicable to seniors, but boomers, young adults; actually any homeowner can benefit from this approach.

Part I introduces some home modifications that do create a more livable, supportive home environment. Addresses how modifying existing elements in your home can (1) make it easier to perform day-to-day tasks (2)provide a more flexible, adaptable home (3) improve ingress, egress constraints, hazards (4) Improve ambient, task lighting (5) bathroom and kitchen adjustments for better movement, accessibility (6) stairway issues (7) safe transition thru your home.......just to mention some things for starters!!!!

Part II introduces the first of four "hurdles" which must be over come for people to achieve this supportive environment. Parts III, IV,V shall deal independently with each of the other hurdles.

The series concludes with the Epilogue: putting things into actyion.

Stay tuned-in; it shall be a valuable excursion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

HOME IMPROVEMENT....Boomers.....Seniors
Are you wanting, in need of, improvements but are afraid, scared stiff about doing anything? The uncertainty of the economy, value of your home, lack of cash you stymied???

Well....take heart!!!!

FDR's comment after Peral Harbor:
"the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself" was made, of course, to bolster peoples feelings. Alto this is not WWII, the statement is very applicable today concerning your home improvements.

The sky is really not falling, Chicken Little; well, not all of it anyway, and not necessarily your part folks. What is required in overcoming these "fears" is a redirection in one's thinking. Yup...the "rules" got changed on us and no one bothered to tell us, but now knowing these new rules, they can be dealt with. The "home improvement game" is still safe, fair, and worthy of playing.

New Rule #1: A redirection of assessing home improvements from the traditional "value-base" of increasing the resale value of your home. With this new rule of home valuation, this approach no longer applies. What ever you might do to increase your homes value is not going to pay dividends any time soon. Lenders are not going to give you additional credit for such. Yes, doing such might increase the likely hood of a sale, but you are probably not going to recover the cost. You are stuck in a bottoming, depressed value market that is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

New rule #2: You can't just figure that you can sell and get something different; move up/down as necessary.
a) If your home would sell, it's going to take quite a bit of time to do so if you want to get your price. The problem here is that you are stuck in an auction/short-sale driven market in which you can't win. People are wanting a "steal".
b) You have no doubt lost a TON of equity. This cuts heavily into your re-investment capability.
c) Finding exactly what you need w/o having to make alterations/improvement any way is doubtful.

SO.....What do you do.....

New rule #3: The "value-base" of your home now need to be directed to maximizing its livability for you; meeting your life-stlye requirements. You need to adjust your home to one that works for you in meeting your day-to-day and future needs. Further, such actions will greatly enhance your ability for living independently and aging in your current home

Also: things become more valuable if increased benefits can be acheived through incremental modification to the same base element. Such can be the case with your home. Subtle home improvements can gain benefits greater than their cost, especially if directed to "essentials" vs. "luxuries".

By understanding and applying these new rules, you can overcome the fear. And as I said.....Take Heart!!!!.....You do not have to tackle these by yourself. I can walk you through this new direction and assist in your "due-diligence"; show you where and how to acheive this new "value-base"

So...Alice!! Step through the looking glass. DO step through the fear. Obtain a new confidence. Feel good about your home.
CALL ME!!!! 714-731-3567