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GRACEFUL AGING

The aging process is something we all have in common. Having had an Elder Law practice in Fort Wayne for many years, I was an interested observer of the aging process of my clients. Today the Boeglin Team works with many clients who are faced with difficult decisions due to the inevitable factors of aging. Decisions like downsizing, assisted living, moving close to family, and giving up the keys to the car, to name a few. And, of course, we are not immune from some of the same issues as our clients.

It is well known that not all people age at the same pace. Chronologically, of course, we all age the same. However, we know that some people age gracefully into their 70s and 80s and beyond; other people are not so fortunate.

What is the difference? Probably, medical science has some scholarly answers to this question. However, I have observed some common characteristics of the people that I see aging well. In addition to good genes, they tend to be physically and mentally active, with a positive attitude toward life. They take care of themselves, lead a healthy lifestyle, maintain a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Medical issues are dealt with and not ignored.

As I was bicycling earlier today, dodging other bikers, walkers, and joggers, I was reminded how Florida is a wonderful place for people to age. The climate and environment support an active, healthy lifestyle 12 months a year. The medical community in Southwest Florida is pro-active with expertise in dealing with common problems of older patients. It is no coincidence that many of our Florida friends appear to be aging gracefully.

That same Florida climate is not quite so easy on the aging process of homes. In the Midwest and Northeast, it is not unusual for beautiful homes to be more than 100 years old. Florida homes tend to age quickly, but not necessarily at the same pace. Just like people, they tend to age based upon the initial quality of construction, regular repairs and maintenance, and periodic updating and replacement of parts.

An interesting Florida phenomenon is that the best locations were taken first. Many of the older neighborhoods are located closest to the beaches. Newer developments are usually miles inland from the coastal breezes, and bounded by noisy expressways. Many of the older homes are located on the best lots in the neighborhood, with favorable views and exposures. And many of the homes built in the 80s and 90s have more individuality and character than the “cookie cutter” approach of later years.

If a 20 to 35 year old home has been well maintained, updated, and vulnerable parts (e.g. roof) have been replaced, it may be aging more gracefully than a 10 year old home that has been ignored. There is more to consider than the home’s “year of birth”.

It is not unusual for buyers to tell us that they only want to see homes built since 2000. Interestingly, they often change their minds after seeing an older, updated, well maintained home in a desirable location. Many older communities are loaded with these kinds of homes.