What to Expect When You Sit Down to Talk with Us About Your 55+ Housing


When you meet with us for a Needs and Options Review, we will ask you about your lifestyle, about what brings you comfort and excitement. Lisa Bixler, a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist believes it’s important for our 55+ clients to consider not only the logistics but also the feelings involved in creating a new home.

The theme in senior residential centers is often community connection. However, some people prefer to stay connected with their current friends and family, rather than meet a whole new group. You may or may not want to stay in your current house. We can help you with all of these scenarios.

Sustaining Family Traditions With 55+ Housing

We understand what makes a house or apartment a home, and that there are choices.

Your very first meeting will be with Lisa, and she will ask, ‘When do you feel most grounded in your current home?’

Your home is your sanctuary, where you return to recharge your batteries and feel centered. What do you love about it?

Many people naturally feel anxiety about leaving home.

‘Some older seniors hang on to being in their house,’ Lisa says. ‘There’s a sense of comfort. Our job is to recognize this comfort and integrate it into a solution that better addresses their current and future needs.’

Oftentimes, clients will tell us about solid family traditions, such as hosting their children and grandchildren for holidays. That can still be possible. Whether you are considering making modifications to your existing home or finally building that dream house by the lake, when everyone comes to Grandma’s for Christmas, it’s a place they’ll love to go.

Maintaining Active Lifestyles

Our ideas grow out of what you want, so Lisa will ask, ‘How do you enjoy spending your time?’

Aging shouldn’t mean giving up the activities that are nearest to your heart and your identity.

Maybe you love gardening and landscaping or taking your dog for long walks around the park.

Perhaps you’re working toward a goal, such as building a dining table in a wood shop. We encourage our clients not to sacrifice those life-affirming interests. We will integrate your core desires into your home, whether this is an apartment, a cottage in a 55+ complex, or a house.

Whatever your situation, your home needs to express who you are and accommodate what you love to do.

The most vibrant parts of you should really be reflected, supported and nourished in your home throughout all stages of life.

In the words of legendary architect Le Corbusier, ‘A home should be the treasure chest of living.’

We realize there are many different lifestyles. Some empty-nesters may want to travel and own low- maintenance homes. Another group may consider multi-generational living in order accommodate their grandchildren and aging parents. Increasing numbers of retirees are starting new businesses or non- profits. Any of these choices will affect the optimum design of your home. It shouldn’t be just a ‘cookie cutter’ plan.

Considering Priorities Moving Forward with 55+ Housing

We want you to consider now, while it is easiest and most affordable. Lisa will ask, ‘What are your priorities?’

If you are healthy now, you aren’t thinking about grab bars for the bathroom; your focus is elsewhere. However, you may decide to be ready for what may come, far down the road, without making a big deal of it by adding extra blocking behind the wall. Aging-in-place strategies are not just helpful for older people. Having extra support in a wet area can also come in handy while recovering from a sports injury or bathing children. Widening a doorway doesn’t just accommodate a wheelchair or walker – it also makes it easier to move furniture and carry armloads of packages.

There have been great advancements in products that serve a dual purpose – like grab bars hidden in a soap dish or toilet paper holder and stylish non-slip floor tiles.

It is completely possible to plan and prepare your home for various long range updates, but not necessarily implement them all at once.

What we don’t want is to design something that doesn’t take your family’s unique needs into consideration. For example, you may not care that your bathroom is completely remodeled if you aren’t able to regularly see your friends. In that case we’d start by focusing on how you can come and go with ease and invite your loved ones to do the same.

We work on possibilities, on what can be gained with this adaptation or move.

Many people, from residents to developers, think about a house’s size and amenities but don’t always consider what the lifestyle will be in that home.

For us, the more crucial question is:

‘What brings you joy?’

We look forward to helping you envision and achieve a home that expresses your individual answer to that most important question.

Please contact us or click here to set up your Needs and Options Review.

How Today’s Boomers are Aging in Place


As adults stay in their homes longer, they’re making sure they’re prepared for the years ahead.

Like everything else, baby boomers are redefining what it looks like to age in place.

Forget the traditional grab bars for bathroom safety that stick out like a sore thumb. They’re opting for bars that are hidden inside of towel racks, soap holders and toilet paper dispensers. After all, the rest of their home is stylish, too.

“After years of hard work, many have achieved a certain level of comfort and would like to maintain their quality of lifestyle as they get older,” says Lisa Bobulinski Bixler, a Houston architect with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist designation from the National Association of Home Builders.

Nearly 90 percent of adults aged 45 and older surveyed by AARP indicated they wanted to stay in their homes “for as long as possible” as they aged. On the flip side, a study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation found that “…the bulk of long-term care will occur in single-family owner-occupied homes … but the homes are not prepared.”

A booming aging-in-place industry is starting to offer an array of options, including active adult communities with homes that take into consideration the needs of seniors and offer different levels of care.

“Communities that include independent living allow residents to maintain their independent lifestyle but add a socialization component that is probably missing in their current situation,” notes Kyle Exline, executive director of The Clare, a retirement residence in Chicago.

But when thinking about the home, the key is to consider adaptability, the ability of spaces to be modified for future needs, and “visitability,” the minimum level of accessibility that will allow someone with a disability basic access to the ground floor of a home.

“These are the areas that people are thinking about now so that when a situation does arise, the modifications in their home don’t seem like an afterthought,” notes Bobulinski Bixler.

While it can be challenging to create a “visitable” residence with “curb appeal,” since wider sidewalks and entry elevations make traditional landscaping and hardscaping more difficult, it’s easier to handle when integrating the new needs into the design or remodeling plans of the home, she adds.

To be sure, homes ideal for aging in place include standard features. Debra Cohen owns a referral agency in Nassau County, New York, that prescreens and refers contractors to older homeowners who need to modify or repair their homes. She says a master bedroom and bath on the first floor is the feature most in-demand, followed by a low or zero-threshold entrance to the home and a zero-threshold shower entrance.

Also important are wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, non-slip flooring throughout the home and lowered kitchen and bath countertops.

Bobulinski Bixler says the trend now among baby boomers is to prepare homes for aging in place without, necessarily, displaying the hardware. For instance, homes now include interior doors 3 feet wide instead of 2 feet 8 inches, including wall blocking for future fixtures and grab bars.

Retirees also are thinking ahead and building stronger ceiling structures to handle future lifts, and installing conduits for future wiring to allow spaces to be remodeled more easily and affordably when the time comes.

Throughout the house, lever handles are preferred over turn knobs, because of the age-related prevalence of arthritis, Bobulinski Bixler notes.

Some of the features many not even be for the boomers.

These “retirement homes” have to accommodate visiting children, grandchildren, and friends, in addition to the as the needs of their own aging parents. Many are helping care for an elderly or disabled parent who lives with them, Bobulinski Bixler says.

“The advantage is that today people can prepare to age in place without sacrificing an attractive, comfortable living environment,” she says.

How To Let Joy Guide Your Retirement Lifestyle

Let Joy Guide Your Choices in 55+ Housing

When you let joy guide your choices in 55+ and senior housing, it is possible not only to ‘get through’ the downsizing or move to a retirement home, but to thrive.

We’ve all seen or experienced the challenges of ‘giving up’ a home of 40 or 50 years … the emotional pathways of ‘downsizing’ to an apartment, introverts feeling ‘forced’ to socialize in a communal setting. I propose that we start to feel, talk and act differently in preparing for this stage of life.

It’s easy to worry and natural to feel a sense of loss in transitioning out of a longtime home; without doubt, it’s important to recognize and honor these feelings.

Sidestep one-size-fits all housing

Yet it is possible to also acknowledge the gains: The ease of not having to maintain an older home, the convenience of living near a favorite recreational pursuit; perhaps, the relaxation of not having to cook dinner every night. But I’m not talking about semantics or silver linings.

I’m talking about real, tangible, structural adaptations.

As an architect, I help people create, modify or develop housing that allows them to focus on what they most enjoy.

Sadly, I also meet people after they’ve made what they later realize were the wrong choices for themselves or their loved ones.

So, by ‘act differently,’ I mean let’s get away from one-size-fits-all housing. Maybe you need a larger dining area rather than that extra bedroom. If you love being with your friends, perhaps consider staying close rather than moving to the lake. Maybe it’s even possible to adapt your current home so that you can age in place.

Answer these 5 questions about retirement living

Here are five things to consider as you plan your 55+ or retirement lifestyle:

  1. How important to you are your community connections?
    • You may be drawn to a new home in the Hill Country; is that more significant than being able to meet your friends without driving over an hour each way?
    • Many clients adapt their homes to age in place because being a part of their community is so important for them and they realize this before leaving it.
    • For those building a new home or developing senior housing, doing so within the community makes it possible for those who value that community to thrive and even enjoy life more than ever.
  2. Does your life center around family fun? If you love to cook and to host gatherings, yet plan to downsize into a cottage, there are ways you can open up that space to ensure that this joyful part of your life continues in your retirement lifestyle.
  3. What are your top three personal values? Don’t lose sight of these as you consider an exciting new house or community. Your values show up in how you spend your time. For example:
    • Some couples love to travel or play golf and prefer a low-maintenance new home.
    • Others have their grandchildren in their home every day; for them it is important to look at the flow of family rooms and convertible spaces.
    • Still others have a hobby like woodworking or gardening; even housing developers can differentiate their projects from the competition by featuring access to nature, community gardens or a shared workshop or studio space. Another bonus – continuing to enjoy familiar interests helps introverts to socialize in a more relaxed way.
  4. What if your life holds new adventures? Some retirees decide to start a new business, completely unrelated to the corporate career they just left behind; others remarry.Consider whether your environment adequately supports this exciting next chapter. For instance: does your home accommodate a growing, blended family? Is there sufficient space to operate that business from home, or does the neighborhood have a co-working space that you can utilize?
  5. What does ‘coming home’ mean to you? Before you say ‘walking into my old house,’ ask yourself what exactly … sitting in a familiar chair while you watch the game? Having your flower pots outside the kitchen window? When the whole world is ‘going’ – faster and faster, it seems – how can you create an oasis, perhaps even more enjoyable than the home you are transitioning out of?

Come home to a retirement lifestyle that suits you

Often, the word ‘joy’ is paired with another that has as many meanings as there are people in the world. And that word is ‘comfort.’ Think about what it means to you. Today, there are more possibilities than ever before to achieve it.