Losing a Sense of Home Could Cost you your Life

How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and do what really matters most.

~Stephen Covey

Aaron Murphy is a Leading voice in the national aging-in-place conversation. He’s the author of Aging In Place: 5 Steps to Designing a Successful Living Environment for Your Second Half of Life, an Architect,
and advocate for aging in place. He shares some thoughts about home and what matters.


by Aaron Murphy AIA

I sat down with a wonderful woman who was selling advertising for a new magazine that is to be “all the rage” on Bainbridge Island, in Washington. It’s highbrow, high class, high luster, and advertising is high-price. I would like to advertise in their magazine, along with all the other people I know that were in the first issue, the contractors that I work with and the architects that I compete against. But what was way more interesting than comparing pricing and sizes of ads and placement in the periodical, was the discussion we got into after I told her about my passion on the residential architecture side of the coin, and my passion to help people with creating their “forever home” for “Aging in Place”.

Aging in Place Matters

After my short synopsis summarizing for her “What is Aging In Place, and why am I focusing on it for the residential portion of my architecture firm?”, she was quite pleased with my answers, as well as the concept niche and unique direction of my attention in residential design and construction (She also noted that no one else she’d talked to in my industry – builders or designers – was having these discussions with her on this topic. –Side Note: Glad to hear it!). But it’s what came after that as a story from her that really brought me to my knees emotionally, and then had me standing back up even taller and more passionate at the end.

This gal who was sitting down with me to sell me advertising in a magazine, went on to tell me in the subsequent 5 minutes, a truly deep and personal story of her own. The more I speak on the topic and hear people’s responses, I realize we all know Someone (usually it’s US) that have a current story about dealing with an aging family member). Her story told of how her mother-in-law, at an amazing and vibrant 94 years old, took a spill and broke her hip. With none of her kids close enough geographically, or with enough “free-time” available to sit down and design a good solution for her next phase of a housing / living situation, the oldest children simply (via internet research) found a nursing home for her to go to after her couple of weeks in the hospital and in-patient physical therapy. This broke my heart right at that point, but the story itself continued. She said in just 3-4 months from the time of the fall, her mother-in-law was dead. Yep, I said it… DEAD. She couldn’t believe it.

Why did such a vibrant woman, so alive and in good health, deteriorate so quickly? Her Environment. Her “new home” wasn’t a HOME at all. It didn’t feel good to her, it didn’t feel safe, it didn’t feel like “her own”. First, she broke her hip, and lost some mobility. But then she likely lost something more important, her HOME. She likely lost her pet, her garden, and her independence – all at once, in an instant. Her housing change BROKE HER SPIRIT… and that alone, can KILL YOU. There are many stories and statistics about a similar “broken spirit leading to loss of life”, wherein many (typically) men don’t live much more than two years if their wife dies first. They feel lost, and their reason for living, after losing their mate of 40-50+ years, withers away. I felt awful hearing about this personal story from someone I’d just met, but I also realized that I needed to talk about it and share her story. We all have a story that could end like this one. OR we can make a paradigm shift that is desperately necessary as we head into this “Silver Tsunami” of 10,000 people turning 65 years old every day.

Stay in Your Home

Design in our home matters. Daylight matters. Colors matter. Materials matter. Safe appliances and fixtures in our home matter. All these things should be considered consciously, carefully, and pro-actively. You wouldn’t think so, but as you can see from the above stories, it could literally “save your life”. Hard to believe, but it’s true. By designing your home with a professional, before you need the changes (so you are in “planning” mode, not “panic” mode after an accident) can make your house your “forever home”, a place that you enjoy and makes you happy, is safe, and that functions correctly for your own specific needs and wants. You have a RIGHT to stay in your own home for the rest of your life if it’s the right fit for you, and 89% of those polled (AARP) will tell you that IS what they want.

So, let’s make the paradigm shift. Let’s talk about it, plan for it, and help make it happen for all those masses of people that are approaching this critical and pivotal life decision in the years and decades ahead! Together, we can DO THIS!


aging in place

Aaron D. Murphy is a businessman and an entrepreneur, as well as a philanthropist in his community. Aaron’s career has been extensive and continuous in the fields of architecture and real estate for over 15 years. Aaron is also a “Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist” (CAPS certification through NAHB). To learn more about this program, please visit ADM Architecture’s Aging in Place page.

Personal Mission Statement
With my strong desire for personal growth and knowledge, I strive to provide for myself and those around me an energetic and enjoyable environment for creating “wealth” in all avenues of life. I act honestly and sincerely through a positive energy and strong worth ethic. I stay true to my beliefs and focused on the goals of fulfillment in the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and financial aspects of my own life and of the lives I come in contact with.

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