Monday, October 8, 2018

City of Dunwoody needs to ensure we are fostering real estate that allows Aging in Place where possible.

The City of Dunwoody strives to be a dynamic, innovative community where individuals, families, and businesses can thrive through all stages of life and career by encouraging a sustainable mix of land uses, facilities, and services.

One of the hot topics in local real estate discussions is finding ways to allow residents to "age in place", by having a mix of housing with various sizes and designs that would serve a wide variety individuals, be it singles, couples, families, but also housing that serves the needs of seniors and those with mobility issues.   Dunwoody real estate agents will tell you that the lack of masters on the main and senior friendly housing is a documented problem for those looking to down size from the big four bedroom home with numerous stairs and more landscaping than they can handle.

Various housing developments are being proposed but will they hit the mark as being desirable to all walks of life, or will they based on their physical design exclude those who can not handle stairs or long walks to their car? The City recently required a town home developer to offer elevators for those who wanted it because the City wanted to offer a possibility for those buying those units the ability to age in place.

When I think of new housing proposals being offered, I think of my 82 year old parents who's circumstances also mirror many of my neighbors who where the original homeowners of Dunwoody back in the 70's.  How would this proposed residential space and the amenities serve the needs of my aging parents and those like them in Dunwoody?  My Mother uses a walker to walk short distances and even uses a wheel chair for longer distances.  Therefore seeing proposed large scale residential developments, I see my parents, I see my neighbors and ask if this housing product would work for those who want to age in place?  As in the case of the proposed town homes, modifications may need to be suggested to improve the possibilities of seniors living there.

My parents successfully downsized from a four bedroom single family home to a two bedroom / two bath condo, with a nice balcony, in unit laundry, deeded in building parking below the building, in building storage units, prewired for cable and internet, elevators and a beautiful outdoor gathering place to be social.  Luckily, their unit as designed worked well for them without major renovations being needed except we did add in grab bars in the shower and a few other minor modifications. 

I see this type of condo development that my parents moved into as a viable option for those seniors who are looking to stay close to family & friends yet downsize to single level living.

Here is a recognized Aging-In-Place Design Checklist for residential units to keep in mind and as we approve new residential units in Dunwoody we should include the practices of Universal Design to foster aging in place.

Not putting these common sense practices into place would be short sighted and detrimental to the entire community.

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