Jason Parker interviews Aaron Murphy, architect who is a certified aging in place specialist regarding Designing Your Dream Retirement Home.
Below is the full transcript:
Announcer: Welcome back, America, to Sound Retirement Radio where we bring you concepts, ideas, and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence, and freedom as you prepare for and transition through retirement and now here is your host, Jason Parker.
Jason: Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Gig Harbor, all the good people right here in Kitsap County, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio and for those of you listening online as a podcast on iTunes, maybe you’re listening, streaming from KKOL, thank you so much for tuning in and being here today.
For the last, almost five years now, I’ve been saying, “We want to deliver clarity, confidence, and freedom to the people that we serve,” and that is exactly the reason that we do this program. We’re trying to find experts that we can bring on to the program so that as you’re preparing for and transitioning through retirement, and it’s really everything that you’ve worked hard for and that you get to live out this dream and this next phase of your life. Thank you for being here.
I have a great guest to bring on the program today. Aaron Murphy is with ADM Architecture. ADM Architecture was created and founded by Aaron Murphy in 2009 in Poulsbo, Washington, just outside of Seattle. Mr. Murphy is a licensed architect and brings over 17 years of experience in both commercial and residential design, permitting, and construction documents. Over the last 18 years, Aaron has been a part of design and permitting for over one million square feet of project work of all construction types, sizes, styles, and budgets.
His work includes office complexes, auto dealerships, medical and dental buildings, interior tenant improvements, as well as, custom homes and remodels. Murphy’s firm is noted as “Architecture without the ego,” as he believes in team design and good communication for the success of the project and the satisfaction of the clients he serves. He is also managing editor of Empoweringthematuremind.com, a residential outreach program of ADM Architecture.
With that, let’s go ahead and bring Mr. Murphy onto the program. This should be a great episode. Mr. Murphy, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio.
Aaron: Jason, thanks for having us. It’s a pleasure to be back. We’ve been across each other with a microphone a few times and it’s always nice to do it again.
Jason: Absolutely. For our listeners out there, Aaron, hosts a radio show you can find online and he’s had me as a guest and I’ve had him on the program in the past and it was very well received so, Aaron, before we get started, our listeners have … They just love the jokes that we bring in for them every Saturday morning, that’s something they could share with their family and I’ve asked you to bring one of those jokes in, what do you want to share with us today?
Aaron: Yeah, and you didn’t give me a ton of notice, but my mind flashed back to the Halloween just maybe six weeks ago and my eight year old son testing jokes out on me, so that’s what I’m going to bring to the table. Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?
Jason: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? I don’t know, why?
Aaron: According to my son, Noah, he didn’t have the guts.
Jason: He didn’t have the guts. There you have it folks, so you see, it’s not just me with the corny jokes. Mr. Murphy has a pocketful of them, too. I think this is the consequences of having a eight year old at home. I have an eight year old at home, too, and so these are the jokes that we hear all day. If you have a good one, I’d love to hear it, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if it’s worthy of being on the radio and, boy, it doesn’t take much, we’ll get that on the program.
Mr. Murphy, I want to … This is great because we’re talking about architecture. We’re talking about design and for a lot of people that are getting ready to retire, they’re planning out their dream home and there’s really two different avenues I want to take this interview down today.
The first one is for people that are getting ready to retire and they’re thinking about that dream home, what should they be considering from a design standpoint? The second part of the program, I want to focus more on the types of things people should be thinking about, once they’ve gotten really up there in age and they need their home to really work for them, to keep them in that home as long as possible.
With that, why don’t you start out? Tell us a little bit more about ADM Architecture, why you started it, and also a little bit about empowering the mature mind.
Aaron: Sure, again, thank you so much for having me on. It’s always a pleasure to come talk to you and to your audience and I know that we share an audience in that regard. ADM Architecture is a full service architecture firm, like I said … Well, you’ve said it in the bio, yeah, I’ve done a million square feet of commercial work which inherently has the ADA and Accessibility as a code requirement, by law, because they’re serving the public. That doesn’t really exist in residential architecture …
Jason: What’s that? What doesn’t exist?
Aaron: The law requiring it to be accessible, okay.
Jason: Oh, okay.
Aaron: For homes, there’s a much broader discussion that we can have about adaptable homes, visitable homes, and things like that. For the first avenue, you asked I go down which is maybe you’re 40 or 50 and maybe this is your last home purchase or you bought land or you’re thinking about the last big remodel. We want to be thinking about opening up space and maneuverability and inclusive design.
Universal Design is a term that’s thrown around a lot, along with Aging in Place but what we’re really trying to do is while you’re still in control, while you’re in planning mode, be a part of your future, be a part of the decision making that can make that a success. We want you to be empowered and architecture, homes. Really home care and home medical cost and housing are the biggest ticket items that you probably deal with as far as clients, right.
Jason: I have to tell you, one of the biggest concerns or fears people have is health care cost as they transition through retirement and nursing home cost can be a big part of that. If we can keep people out of nursing homes, help them maintain their independence for as long as possible, I think that’s where this intelligent design really comes into place, but when it comes to … Because that’s really, that side of the program really I think focuses more on what happens when people’s health starts to fail.
Just from the standpoint of people saying, “Boy, I’m really excited about this next phase of my life,” there are certain things that I’m hearing from folks that I want to share with you and then see if there’s anything on top of this that you’re looking for. Number one, I’m finding that for people to be close to family in some way for a retirement house is really important, to have some kind of support structure is really critically important. For people that take off and move to communities where there is no family support as a long term planning option, that seems like it could create potential problems.
Aaron: Yeah, I just in LinkedIn recently read an article about the huge gap that’s happening that’s creating a nursing shortage. There’s a flatline of who’s entering nursing and compare that to 10,000 people a day started turning 65 every day as of January 2011 and for the next 18 years, at 10,000 people a day against a flatline entry of the industry, we’re going to have exponential growth in the family care giving requirement. We can’t meet the need professionally and it’s going to fall back to the family.
I think you’re very right, as you’re looking at, maybe you have the four bedroom house that was 3200 square feet. There’s a lot of conversation about co-housing, multi-generational housing, but two thirds … I don’t know if you’ve heard this statistic, Jason … Two thirds of suburbia now is empty nested and soon that’s going to be three quarters. Even in your current home, bedroom three and four that used to house a teenager, now probably houses a vacuum cleaner and Christmas presents, right, and maybe your sewing machine.
There’s room and there’s space in the existing house that compared to the cost of the alternative, nursing homes and assisted living which on average is five to $8,000 a month. I mean I know … When I speak publicly to an audience, I say, “Raise your hand if you have a $6,000 mortgage, because if so, I’m adoptable.” I mean think about the majority of America, we probably can’t afford that but it’s the inevitable result of not planning.
Now let’s look at the alternative. What if we can take bedroom three and four? We can put in an elevator. We can do a kitchen remodel so that there’s more accessibility in home and inclusive design that keeps you independent. I’ve done that math and I’ve written a white paper on it. I know we can get into more detail about that later if you want but I can save your clients $35,000 a year and keep them home which is where 89% of AARP polled people … That’s what they say they want.
Jason: For our listeners, I want to be able to make some of these resources available that we’re talking about and so can we get a link that we put on SoundRetirementRadio.com to your … If people want to request this white paper that you have?
Jason: Of future cost, housing costs.
Jason: One of the things I wanted to find out about, you mentioned putting an elevator in and as just from a trend standpoint, do you see houses in the future where we continue to see these great big houses, two storey homes or do you think we’re going to be looking more at single storey? What seems to be the trend there?
Aaron: Yeah, there’s an interesting five or six decades that it happened. Post World War II and pursuing the American Dream of owning dirt and two cars and women go back to work and we created suburbia around schools. We said, “We don’t want to live near commerce and …” Anyway, jump forward, 2003 is the year that “Master on the Main Floor,” was coined in our industry. We’ve got a hundred years worth of homes that didn’t think about where we’re heading now and for the next 30 years, as a buyer, as a user of residential building design.
Master on the Main Floor, you just mention that, single storey living, right, the ‘50s ranch came close but you still have 36 inch wide hallways and 30 inch doors and if you’re using any mobility device and we don’t even have to jump to elderly people, right. I’ve torn my Achilles playing basketball. Stairs aren’t fun.
Aaron: We all have places in our lives where we go through some alteration of ability and all these things that design can really help from an independence perspective but to answer your question again, single storey living is really going to be a trend. I think you can ask real estate agents as we’ve come out of this bottom since ‘07, through this past spring, ramblers are moving first.
Aaron: People are starting to think about this stuff or even a daylight basement style home where maybe there’s an extra junior suite or it could be modified for that for a caregiver later. Planning.
Jason: Yeah, it’s planning. Looking forward, looking into the future and saying, “Boy, life isn’t always going to be this way.” It’s amazing to me, how many people I meet with today, Aaron, that still have these huge homes, 3,000, 4,000 square feet on five acres and they spend an incredible amount of time just trying to maintain that size house but we’re going to talk some more about designing your perfect house as you transition into retirement.
We need to take a quick commercial break and we’ll be right back.
All righty, folks, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio, I’m your host, Jason Parker. You can find us online at SoundRetirementRadio.com and I’ll put links to the show notes, so if you want to learn more about Mr. Murphy, you can visit the show notes to learn more about him and some of these white papers he’s talking about.
I’m also going to make sure that you know about the blog that I write every week, Sound Retirement Planning is a blog that I’ve been updating on relevant issues that you should be thinking about as you’re transitioning through retirement. Be sure to check that out, too. As always I love a conversation. I love dialogue. I love to hear where you’re at and some of the challenges you’re facing and I have to tell you a lot of the program that I try to do comes from the fact that we’re meeting with people all of the time and hearing some of their concerns, some of the things that they’re most excited about in retirement or as they get ready for retirement.
That’s how we get the content for this program which, Mr. Murphy, brings me to my next topic. I was meeting with some folks recently and they were sharing with me that they are considering moving into one of these 55 plus communities that is the one … Some of the things that are attractive about it is of course, they tend to have a lot of people that are in their same demographic with similar interests and similar financial situation. That’s attractive to them but the husband said to me something that was really, that stood out.
He said, “Jason, if anything ever happens to me, I want to know that my wife is going to have a good support system around her.” Have you had any experience with this 55 plus communities? It seems like we’re seeing more and more of them all the time.
Aaron: Yeah, I definitely think that they seem to be on the rise and that’s probably just again related to 10,000 people a day moving into a new category. The Baby Boomers are calling that the Silver Tsunami, right. It’s just happening in such a wave for us demographically. If socialization is a big priority to you, if it’s one of your top two, then some people are willing to make that move. More often than not, the friends they already have, the neighbors they have, the art space on the wall, all their things are already in their own home and I don’t think, again, looking at AARP statistics and the research that we’ve done, I don’t think that’s most people’s first choice but, again, for some it definitely is. For some, they’re looking for the social solution.
Jason: The other thing I hear from people a lot of times, and this may be just a Northwest phenomenon but this idea of having a small, easy to maintain house in beautiful Poulsbo, Washington for the months of May through October and then heading down to sunny Arizona or Maui for October through April, have you seen much of that? Do you help people with considerations there in terms of design for a small home here?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I’ve more than once for a client designed a 1200 square foot house because they know they’re only going to be here half the year. They had had land in the family for a period of time or after the recession it was affordable again or whatever the case may be. Yeah, many times we’re designing half the house we did before but we’ve got them on the other end, too.
There’s the Navy doctor that has earned the five acres of waterfront with the 1940s 700 square foot cabin on the water, facing the mountains, the Olympic Mountains and finally they’re going to tear that down and they’re making their final house and we’re going concrete floors that are heated on the second floor and all of that and that’s a 3800 square foot house. There’s both ends. It’s always going to be client specific.
Jason: What are some of the things? When you’re talking about some of these things like concrete floors that are heated, what are some of the items that you find a lot of people looking for in their home today?
Aaron: It really runs the gamut. Typically it’s mostly driven by finance. Okay, I could give you a list of $100 or less items that you could go get at Home Depot and install yourself. Then the other end of the spectrum would be … and to get back for a moment to planning, even if you didn’t do the elevator now, we can remodel a three storey house because the lot’s too small to do a rambling one storey house, right. We can remodel a three storey house and frame in for an elevator later.
A lot of the issues that come up, your folks, my folks, were a little bit in denial as a society about aging and so just even being able to be a … and our book talks about this … Being an active listener, you have to be, I have to be as a designer and kind of peel the onion and find the real truths and the wants and the fears and plan for that. Even if I can’t talk to you about grab bars today or an elevator or your future changes, we can even do things behind the walls to help you when it’s time to talk about.
Jason: This is maintaining your independence, having a plan for health care cost because you know that the government is spending money at a rate that they’re just not going to be to provide for people the way that I think a lot of people are thinking they are. I have the mindset that we’d better make the proper plans and preparations to provide for ourself and not plan on the government to be there to provide for us. Maintaining your independence is huge. That’s what everybody wants. They want to be able to stay in their own home as long as possible and never become a burden to anybody. I hear that a lot, too.
Aaron: Absolutely, yup, they were raised by products of the great Depression. Their parents and then they were the June and Ward Cleavers and everything was fine from the curb and on our … From the face, right, we didn’t talk about our parents. They don’t talk about our problems. We’re, “Hey, that’s private stuff.” Money’s private, medical issues are private. It’s tough. There are people writing books about how to have conversations like this.
Jason: Yeah, you’re right. It is tough. One of the things that fascinates me is this opportunity for solar energy. Do you hear anybody when you’re doing design work these days, anybody interested in getting off the grid, if you will?
Aaron: Yeah, you do live in the same county I live in, right?
Jason: With trees all around me.
Aaron: Jason, we have 10 weeks of summer here. I don’t know why you’re talking to me about solar at all. I mean take me to Tempe and we’ll have that conversation. No, I’m kidding. You’d be surprised actually, even in gray sunlight and diffused sunlight, energy efficiency is obviously a discussion and actually a lot of that has to do maybe less with being green, granola, tree hugging. It’s really the people might have done the homework and looked at utility bills on a fixed income.
Jason: Yeah, yeah, I just think it’s fascinating and it’s neat to see the world changing at such a rapid clip and to be a part of that, I think. A lot of the people, you talk about the Baby Boomers, they have transformed our country in every stage of development of their lives. They have redefined America every time. They’re going to do it again here in retirement. This is not going to be their parents’ retirement. This is going to be something completely brand new and the work that you’re doing is really cutting edge because it’s asking people to think, strategically asking people to think, to make tactical preparations so that when they get to retirement they can have the retirement that they want on their terms.
One of the things we have to be thinking about is health care and when you’re talking about sustainability in the house, what does that mean? What do we have to be thinking about from a sustainability standpoint and I’m not talking about the green sustainability. I’m talking about being able to maintain and live in your house sustainability.
Aaron: Sure, I spoke at the American Society on Aging’s conference this past month March in Chicago and had the chance to share the stage with two real well known thought leaders, Dr. Patrick Rodeen who owns Aginginplace.com. He’s a PhD in Gerontology and an RN. He talked about what’s called Environmental Press, okay, and it’s the idea there is some advantage actually to the pressures of being a home owner. In fact there are some AARP studies that suggest that being a home owner can add up to seven years to your life, to your longevity and really it’s the use it or lose it concept, right.
You know that whether it’s your brain or your biceps, being a home owner and having to find the plumber and call in and coordinate an appointment or if you can mow your lawn or weed or pick up after the dog, when you move into a facility setting, you give away all of that decision making to someone else.
Jason: Good point, yeah.
Aaron: Many times maybe somebody will pass and the other one moves into a facility, not having to make decisions can actually deteriorate us quicker. I’m not going to suggest that the 5,000 square foot house on five acres isn’t a ton to manage and maybe the move is the right solution for that client but there is something to be said for staying in control of using your brain and using your body at some level. Because move into a facility and someone else mows your lawn, you don’t get to have your pet, most likely. Maybe it’s sort of a garden in a box but not really and so the use it or lose it goes away. Someone’s cooking for you, all those things that keep you going.
Jason: All those things that require us to stay sharp and alert, you’re right. That’s a good point. That’s a really great point. The flipside to that though is I have this gal that is a dear friend of mine and she in her mid to late 80s, she had been living at her own home for a long time. It was a home that her husband built and it’s a great home. One day she was going down the steps and she tripped and she fell and she hurt herself. She ended up in a nursing home, making a recovery and her adult children that at the time, they live a distance away, they said to her …
They said, “Mom, this isn’t going to work anymore. You need to get into some kind of place where you have people around you.” She ended up selling her house and moving into more of a senior living apartment complex. I have to tell you, Aaron, I have lunch with her probably once every couple of months and every time I see her, she tells me how much she loves the independence from not having to mow the lawn, not having to do the roof repairs, not having all … I mean she still cooks and she’s actually in her 90s now and she’s incredibly vibrant but she draws passion from is with helping people and painting and her artwork. She’s staying very active.
Like you said, there is a concern that you could start to slip but for her, that was really a wonderful sense of freedom when she was able to give up a lot of that responsibility. That’s the other side of the equation.
Aaron: It does. Absolutely, there’s always going to be two sides. It’s always going to be case by case but it would be unfortunate to have somebody from out of state, right, the adult kids making your next living decision by doing a Google search, right.
Aaron: I even talk about this in the book we have coming out next month. There are different ways to communicate and start these conversations about pro-actively planning for aging in place but, yeah, I mean the fall down the stairs, what if we lived in three corners of the country? You and I are brothers, that’s our mom? Neither one of us can get there this week and so we pull the trigger on something based on internet research. Put yourself in mom’s shoes. Do you think that sounds empowering?
Jason: That’s very scary actually, scary for mom, scary for the kids.
Jason: You know what? There’s a lot of people that don’t have the resources to fly around the country to take care of mom and dad.
Jason: Mom and dad don’t want the kids to have to take care of them.
Jason: Yeah, so you’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’ve got this book coming out, I want to ask you some more questions about your book but we need to take our next commercial break and we’ll be right back after this.
All righty, folks. Welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. I’m your host Jason Parker. As always, I sure appreciate you tuning in to this program. If you’re just joining us, I have Aaron Murphy on the program. Aaron is the founder and president of ADM Architecture and he’s also the managing editor for Empowering the Mature Mind.
Aaron, just a moment ago, we were talking about you have a new book. Your first book coming out …
Aaron: That’s true.
Jason: Fairly soon. Tell our listeners why did you write a book, what’s the purpose of this?
Aaron: Yeah, and maybe we should add this piece at the very, very beginning, not the book part but just why am I even here? Why do I have this passion for what I do as a licensed architect on the residential side?
When I left for the University of Washington in 1992, my grandmother was five foot nine, traveling the world, playing masters level bridge, cards, and really enjoying her retirement and very vibrant. I’d come home quarterly and so I got to see this deterioration but five years later she was five foot two from Osteoporosis and trapped in a hospital bed in the living room and didn’t know who grandpa was …
Aaron: From Alzheimer’s …
Aaron: Now at 21, I didn’t want to know much. I wasn’t ready to wrap my head around any of the medical part of that but as someone in architecture school at UW, I was like, wow, her house, this 1970s split level home pretty much failed her, right. I mean the laundry room’s down a flight of stairs but the garage. There’s stairs to get from the corridor to the front door. There’s stairs to go up to the shower or any bedroom, right, and in the end, after walker or cane, walker, wheelchair, and even stair chair, eventually, none of that really worked for her.
Then 15 years later, to find out when I was buying a car off Craig’s list and two 60 year old children brought me mom’s car and she was 94 and I asked the question about where does she live and what does that cost and when I heard that … Where she lives in our county cost them $150,000 out of pocket and five to eight grand a month, I said, “Hang on here.” I put these two half light bulbs together from 15 years apart and said, “We’ve got a problem here that guess what, I mean it would tie a passion to mine and then I’ve got the professional expertise to address it and …”
Wow, so that’s why we started looking into Aging in Place. That’s why we became a certified Aging in Place specialist, that’s a certification you get through the National Association of Home Builders and since I got that in 2009, I’ve been public speaking and preaching this ever since because … Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure.” You know it financially. I know it and so we have to share this message, just like you do on the radio.
Jason: What are some of the challenges you have when trying to share this message with the community?
Aaron: It’s funny when I present, I think my first or my third slide is a picture by Teresa Williamson and it’s two babies and they’re slouched over in these lawn chairs, diaper, no clothes and it says, “Funny thing about this, Joe, is in 70 years, we’re going to be in the same place, still balk, no teeth, and wearing diapers.” The challenge is denial.
Jason: Now there’s a lot of 70 year olds out there right now that are … Our clients and listeners that are going to say, “Who is this young whippersnapper … 70 years old, I’m … kick his butt.”
Aaron: Yeah, it’s … That’s right, that’s right. In fact, did you know? 80 plus is the fastest growing demographic in our nation right now?
Jason: Yeah, I know. When I ran the Seattle Marathon, I think I had an 80 plus year old guy racing me to the finish line so I don’t think we should assume 70 years old you’re going to end up in a diaper but I get the joke.
Aaron: No, no, no. Yeah, and the point is just life comes full circle. I’m with you. I’ve seen both ends. My grandmother struggled very early in her 60s. My grandpa remarried at 87, finally sold his 26 acre Christmas tree farm and beat me at horse shoes on Father’s Day this year at 92.
Jason: That’s awesome. It really is awesome. Getting back to you had this personal experience. You saw it with your grandmother. I heard recently there was a local facility that’s more of a nursing home type facility, $500 per day is how much money this gentleman was paying to stay there. $15,000 a month.
Jason: That’s a big chunk of change, I don’t care how big your nest egg is.
Aaron: Yeah, so let me do that comparison. Let’s go back to that for a second. Let’s take that 3200 square foot house. Let’s take that client of yours that’s got decent equity and probably an okay FICO score, and let’s look at … Let’s put two elevators in just for fun. Okay, I’m going to go way over the top. $150,000 remodel.
Jason: Two elevators, is that so husband and wife can race each other down?
Aaron: They can, right. Exactly, exactly. My plan is …
Jason: Is that for the grandkids to come over and just …
Aaron: The kids, right. The kids. Yeah, we’ll do vertical laps. Now …
Jason: Can I get one of the sleds and maybe a fire pole that give me for the second floor?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah, well, I would at your house, when you’re in 70 and not in diapers, I’m going to do … I think we made this joke last time we talked … We’ll do a shoots and ladders game, right.
Jason: There you go. That’s right. The same jokes over and over again.
Aaron: It is? We’ll be here all week. Yeah.
Jason: Hey, Aaron, why did the skeleton cross the road or why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?
Aaron: Ah, we’re going backwards, can we go forwards?
Jason: We are, we are really.
Aaron: Can we go forwards again?
Jason: We digress. Okay. Here we go.
Aaron: No, I want to take you back to this, okay. $15,000 a month, was that your commentary?
Jason: $15,000 a month, right. That was a recent experience of a real person here at a nursing home facility.
Aaron: Okay, yeah, probably a private single room nursing home, round the clock care. Let’s compare that to a $150,000 remodel. Let’s gut your kitchen, make that more user friendly for the second half of life. Let’s make your …
Jason: What does that mean? More user friendly for a kitchen?
Aaron: Okay, all sorts of products … Can I come back to that?
Jason: Yeah, okay.
Aaron: Just real quickly do this big picture math. 150 grand at 5% on a home equity line of credit is $750 a month, okay. Now let’s go ahead and let’s help you stay there longer and stay independent and look at just the early part of care, help, activities of daily living, is what the occupational therapist would call that. Let’s get $19 or $21 an hour for 20 hours a week. Net savings compared to the National Average between nursing home, private room, and assisted living, $35,000 per year. I don’t have a hard time arguing why having an architect do some design work pencils when that’s the comparative alternative.
You had asked about what does that mean, “inclusive kitchen design” or universal design, product and RND is so far ahead, I feel like my job at some level is to play Aging in Place concierge and quarterback for team members like you, the general contractor, maybe a geriatric care manager, an occupational therapist if you’re recovering from something. I can be a team assembly guy and then what those products are, whether it’s the dishwasher that has the drawers.
I had a great client just near us in Port Ludlow, nine years ago she rode her bike across the country, okay, but she had a minor stroke and is having grip issues and she’s five three. For her, we put pop-up kick stools, step stools in the toe kicks under the base cabinets and put cabinetry hardware so that the upper cabinets come down to you on the counter top.
Jason: Wow, that’s cool.
Aaron: Okay, so there’s really cool individual products. OHSU, the Oregon Health Sciences University down in Portland is doing research right now to put fibers in your carpet that would page you on your Smartphone as the adult child if somebody’s gait changed.
Aaron: Okay, so mom, trips and bumps against the wall on the way to the bathroom at three a.m., your phone goes off.
Jason: Oh, good, guys. Used to be my kids wake me up in the middle of the night, now it’s my parents.
Aaron: Right, I know you’re the next sandwich generation, right, but the point is that there’s amazing technology stuff, whether it’s the dishwasher or the sink or the … All that, but it’s how it all goes together. I mean a contractor can put a grab bar in a shower, I get that, but white vertical surfaces cause vertigo for Alzheimer’s patients.
Jason: Oh …
Aaron: Dementia patients, so colors and thresholds and transitions between things, lighting. I’m having a conversation right now with Steve Orfield, who’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for the quietest room in the world. It’s his acoustics lab and we’re having conversations about sensory architecture. He has now been asked to study things like Autism and aging and in his labs and glare to a 90 year old is 200 times more debilitating than it is to a 20 year old, okay. Our eyes, the light we take in, yellows, and there’s so many factors in making home design work for us in this last third of life.
Jason: It reminds me, we have young kids, eight and six, and we had a performance recently and my mother in law and father in law wanted to drive up for that performance but it was at night and she made it about half way and she had to turn around. She called and she said, “I can’t make it. The glare from the headlights is just getting too hard on my eyes,” and it gets back to this idea of living close to the people that you care about because … Making sure you have things like public transportation and those types of things available to you because at some point, we’re all going to go through this.
It’s cool. I saw some of these videos on this Google car that drives itself, it’d be neat if that technology existed today. You wouldn’t even have to drive yourself. Just get in the car and let it take you where you need it to go but …
Aaron: Then how do you think that’s going to feel as a dad when your eight year old turns 15?
Jason: I love the idea of not having a 15 year old having any responsibility when it comes to pushing on the gas pedal. That just …
Aaron: I know, yeah, I haven’t been in one, so I can’t say I know what that looks like but it sounds nice to take … You were 15, right.
Jason: I know. Hey, I wrecked my first car six days after I got my license.
Aaron: Oh, my god, that is exactly my story. I am not … six days.
Jason: Six day?
Aaron: Was my first accident.
Jason: I should have you on the program more often. You’re a good guy. Tell our listeners more about this book you’ve got coming out.
Aaron: Yeah, so all this passion, all this public speaking, and the niche and the need, I felt like I need to put a lot of that information down on paper. Our book will be published in January. It’s called Aging in Place: Five Steps to designing successful living environments for your second half of life. Again, as an architect, as a certified Aging in Place Specialist, with so many stories … My folks have … I have stories about helping them in their house or great success stories where …
Jason: Let’s come back to some of these stories, Aaron.
Jason: We need to take a quick break and then we’ll … I want to hear some of these stories that you have to share on Aging in Place.
All righty, folks, welcome back. This is Jason Parker with Sound Retirement Radio. I sure appreciate you tuning in. I can’t tell you how much it actually means to me that you folks keep tuning into this program, week after week, month after month, year after year, and that you’re telling your friends about it. We’re creating our own little tribe, if you will, tribe of people that are saying, “Retirement’s important. We’re going to do it right. We’re going to do the research, and we’re going to collectively come together.” Because somebody once said that two minds is better than one and all of us are better than one of us. That’s what I want to do.
If you have somebody you think would be a real guest that would bring real significant value to people’s lives as they’re preparing for retirement, would you please email me that or maybe phone me and tell me and if it has … If your topic has nothing to do with aging, it has nothing to do with retirement, it has nothing to do with making better financial decisions or health decisions, please don’t contact me.
I get 30 emails a day from people that want to tell me the headlines about something that’s totally irrelevant so that’s not what we’re looking for but if it is relevant to retirement, by all means, let’s hear about it and let’s get these people on the program so that they can add value to your life.
Today, I’ve got Aaron Murphy on the program. Aaron Murphy is the president, owner of ADM Architecture. He is also the editor for Empowering the Mature Mind. Is that right, did I say that right?
Aaron: Yeah. Empoweringthematuremind.com … Jason, will you take emails from people that have better jokes than we do?
Jason: Yeah, that’s really what I want.
Aaron: Now that’s relevant, right.
Jason: I just want good jokes. For crying out loud, what’s a guy got to do to get a decent joke on this program?
Aaron, I want you to share some stories, some real life examples of people you’ve worked with, people you’ve helped that where you’ve seen an impact in their life as a result of the work that you’re doing.
Aaron: Absolutely. One great story, the gal who was my son’s swim teacher, her sister got a hold of me on Bainbridge Island here outside of Seattle and she had me over to her house and it was the house that she and her husband had designed together and built together, really a fascinating home, a lot of curved linear walls and stuff. I was so proud of her. I honestly wish I could borrow her brain and put it in every person in the United States.
She was the care taker for him in his last years of life and he had passed before I met her. He had had three strokes. They already had grab bars and things like that and, by the way, guys, we’re not talking about making your house look like a hospital, okay. I mentioned a little bit ago how far ahead product development is, good universal design disappears, okay. You don’t know that it works better. You just know you enjoy it, okay.
Jason: That’s cool.
Aaron: I just want to point that out, but so she had things in place for him and his particular disability. He’s passed, she has been diagnosed with early Parkinson’s …
Jason: Oh, wow.
Aaron: Sat down with me and had the guts to just come out and say it. I mean a fact is a fact, right, but for her to know that we can do this early, mine, her needs, “Me, the client are going to be different than his were. Even though, there’s vertical bar over here and we did this for my husband, my needs with feet and leg tremors and shuffling feet are going to be different.” I was so blessed to meet her and I was inspired by her ability to empower herself to plan for this, while she still can, right.
Aaron: If she didn’t what’s going to happen? Her sister’s going to find her having fallen somewhere in her house and the rest of the story and she doesn’t get to make decisions anymore.
Jason: If you don’t do the plan, you get into crisis management mode and that is a very scary place for everybody involved and not the right way to transition through something bad. What a blessing though to have that advance warning where she gets to make those types of preparations.
Aaron: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and I think, maybe that could segue into there’s also the other side. A lot of times actually, the CAPS certification that I got, there were remodelers in the room, contracting room modelers, there are also occupational therapists. A lot of times, if we could maybe for a second, let’s talk about the fall.
Jason: Right, before we do that, before we run out of time. I know people listening to the program are going to want to learn more about the work you’re doing and how to get in touch with you. What’s going to be the best way for them to learn more about you?
Aaron: Sure, okay, if you’re most interested in the free resources side and the blogging that we do and video blogs and all that stuff, go to www.empoweringthematuremind.com or if you have any questions about it in general, but there’s a lot of great resources on there, podcasts, webinars. I bet if you dig deep enough, it’s probably under the category bad jokes. You might even find where I interviewed Jason a year or two ago.
If you’re more interesting in what we do as a licensed architect and a home designer and need those kinds of solutions, anywhere in the country, because we’re pretty well connected at this point from public speaking and all that go to ADM-architecture.com or hopefully by now, you’ve figured out I’m approachable, I’ll just give you my direct phone number, 360-440-8475. We love helping people plan for empowerment and independence in their future just like you do.
Jason: We’ll put links to all of this in the show notes for Sound Retirement Radio just to make it easy for people to get a hold of you. Anyhow, you were just about to transition into the fall, you said.
Aaron: Okay, so I spoke to … and this really does go back to planning, I’m not going to lie to you. I spoke to a room of 250 people, mayors and real estate agents and the who’s who in Kitsap at a Urban Land Institute Conference as the first speaker and John Rhodes who you may know was the emcee. I said, “John, can I mix this up a little bit? Wake everybody up, the food coma’s probably setting in. I’m last.” He’s like, “Yeah.” He has my sense of humor. He said, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
I intentionally tripped and fell on the way up the two steps to the podium. Pens and papers fly. I go disappearing behind the podium. All the women go, “Huh.” All the guys probably go, “What an idiot,” right, but I stood up and I said, mostly talking to the female over 40, right, typically the care giver by default …
Jason: Yeah, that is the truth.
Aaron: Yeah, I said, “Did that scare you?” They all went, “Uh-huh.” I said, “You don’t even know me. What if that was your mom today while you were at work?” and I left the uncomfortable silence. I said, “That’s why I’m here today, speaking for free, because you can’t … The minute that you get that phone call, you can’t hire me. Do a design, find a contractor, get a permit, and do a construction project.” First of all, I’m right back to planning, okay, and that doing things in advance.
You know this, there’s entire industries that make a living based on our psychology of procrastination, denial or the ability to not know when to walk away or cut our losses. The Vegas Strip, the airline industry makes … they’re profitable because of the last three weeks before our flight, mostly. Our psychology is what it is and it does make it a bit of an uphill battle but it’s not a battle I plan to quit fighting.
Jason: Denial, isn’t that a river in Egypt?
Aaron: It is and save that joke … I’m sorry. Are we not at quota for crummy jokes on the air?
Jason: Denial, that’s one of my favorites, you know, because it’s so much easier to just put it off. My friend, Richard Tizano, I’ve had on the program is an elder law attorney, he said, he has more people come in to do estate planning with him before they leave on a trip … It’s like the number one reason that people will finally buckle down and go get their will done is because they’re getting to go overseas and now they come to the realization … Unfortunately, Aaron, that’s probably not the case with you. When do people usually call you?
Aaron: Oh, gosh, it’s typically a scenario where I wish they had called a little bit sooner. Even just the cycle, the annual cycle of building, I love the February phone call about, “Hey, I know we haven’t met but I’d like to break ground on my new house in April.” That’s a … Love that phone call.
Jason: I want it done by April 15th.
Aaron: Right. Can we move it and can we have a Fourth of July party? Yeah, oh, sure. That’s exactly how that works. Yeah.
Jason: There is a … Is it usually a spouse or a child or something happens and you get a call and say, “Hey, we need to start modifying this house to keep you living here or …”
Aaron: Yeah, a couple of scenarios, either … Actually, I have a great one where somebody in my own Rotary Club, he’s probably 70, his mom had moved for social reasons in new and assisted living but nine years and $450,000 later, he said, “We can’t another hit in the stock market. We’re going to cash her 180 out and save that for that last 10% of her life where medical really sky rockets.” Again, I write all my blogs at Empoweringthematuremind.com and I think that blog is called, “Mom’s Out of Money, Now She’s Moving in,” and so he’s trying to figure out how to modify his home to accept his mother in law.
Yeah, there’s two sides but there’s definitely … I’ve done more than one house that 3500 square feet, we talk about how often the kids are going to be there and we frame a hole for a three storey elevator and then put the plywood over the top and say, “We’ll do that later,” but we planned for it because this is the last time they’re going to do that.
Jason: Yeah, bottom line is I think the message that I hear over and over and over again is better be proactive than reactive in the entire planning process and if you’re getting ready to retire, maybe live in a great big house. It’s a house you raised your kids in and the kids are gone now and you don’t need 3,000 square feet. You’re just looking to simplify and you’re thinking about where you want to be for the rest of your life and what that’s going to look like and, boy, what a gift it is at this point in your life to be able to just close your eyes and have that vision and be able to envision from …
In some cases, we meet with people that are retiring at 50 years old. They’re going to be retired probably more years than they worked in some instances.
Jason: Just to know what that looks like, have a plan for it. That’s the message that I keep hearing over and over again is to have a plan. To be able to start with that design and say, “This is the home that we’re going to live in for the rest of our lives. We’re going to maintain our independence. We’re never going to become a burden to our children, our family or our community,” or at least do everything possible to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s a real gift that you’re providing for people. That’s important work.
Aaron: For sure, and I don’t want to throw the whole CCRC, the Continuing Care Retirement Community under the bus. There is a time and a place where that makes a lot of sense and it’s going to be different for everybody. I get that and I think we can just stay home longer so you’re right. We’ve got 30 new years of longevity in our life since the Industrial Revolution through medical and technological advance. Retirement looks different and housing needs to look different and so that’s what we’re trying to educate about.
Jason: Yeah. Thank you so much for being a guest on Sound Retirement Radio. Folks, I’ve had Aaron Murphy on the program. He is the president of ADM Architecture, the editor of Empowering the Mature Mind. He has a radio show and a podcast that he does and, Aaron, I just want to thank you again for the work you’re doing and taking time out of your busy schedule to be a guest on the program today.
Aaron: Oh, thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure and I appreciate knowing I’m not the only corny one with bad jokes out there.
Jason: Until next week, folks, thanks so much for tuning in.
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