Home Ideations: Aging in place solutions that keep your house your home
12/06/2016 10:49AM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Scott Fulton and Cindy Fallon-Fulton describe themselves as non-followers, but for several years, they were both part of the early-morning cattle ride commute that begins in the far reaches of New Castle and Chester counties and finishes in or near the corporate culture of Wilmington.
Scott’s 35-year engineering and business career included serving as the head of a consulting firm and working for a number of years with DuPont.
An organic chemist, Cindy spent 26 years in various technical and marketing roles at Dupont. They were riding the crest of success, but with each passing year, their careers were taking them further down the rabbit hole of unfulfilment.
"We began to ask the question, 'What are we going to do now that means something?'" Cindy said. "We began to realize that we wanted to leave this world knowing that we did something for someone -- something that mattered, that touched people."
And yet, the inspiration that eventually led the Fultons to begin Home Ideations -- a home mobility solutions company that helps families in Delaware and Chester County transform their homes in order to fit their changing lifestyle -- came from something deeper than just their desire to leave the corporate world.
Soon after Cindy's mother passed from pancreatic cancer, she found herself caring for her father in failing health. She saw him slowly transition from a very active retired business executive who loved life -- which included world travel and a hiking adventure in Thailand just prior to her mother’s diagnosis -- to the slow and tortuous descent that went from the assistance of a walker to a wheelchair and finally, to a permanent bed.
Every day, Cindy carved out time in her busy schedule to travel 40 minutes each way to the extended care facility to be with her father. Weeks before he died in June 2013 at the age of 84, he turned to his daughter and told her that “this was not my plan.”
"Mom and Dad thought they would live until they were one hundred," Cindy said. "They had the financial planning down, but I assumed -- and they assumed -- that they would have much more time. To see that stripped away so quickly was very painful for all of us. If there was some better planning up front, there may have been a way for my father to spend his last days at home, rather than in a nursing home."
Cindy's emotional experiences, combined with Scott's years of engineering and managing contractors, inspired a year-long investigation that led to an ultimate discovery: that in the process of making some of the most important decisions about how to match their living plan with their life plan, millions of Americans were not achieving their vision to Age in Place. They could benefit greatly from a single point of contact to help them understand the challenges and develop a more robust plan.
Enter Scott and Cindy Fulton of Home Ideations.
As the only design, build and maintain firm in the region, Home Ideations brings a unique, holistic approach to help homeowners enjoy more time with family for many years -- without having to sell their current home. Working directly with families, Home Ideations creates an across-the-board, here-to-there options plan that provides long-term solutions that explore the detailed financial comparisons of remaining in one’s home versus moving to an adult community; possible home design ideas; the development of a home plan and a managed maintenance service.
In short, Home Ideations helps spell out the best path forward for seniors and their adult children.
"So many families just look at one or two options," Cindy added. "We want to provide the whole solution -- an entire management model. Home Ideations combines engineering, contracting, facilities management and ideation to come up with tailored solutions. If you can put that all together, you have something unique that can be of value to these families."
Scott said that about 80 percent of families who are mapping out plans to age in place are failing at it.
"A number of retirees are playing a game of Russian Roulette," Scott said. "They are saying to themselves, 'I'm active and I'm going to keep doing the same things, because I've been doing them my whole life. But when something goes wrong, it's usually too late to take corrective action. Often, it takes place over a weekend -- some sudden and unexpected incident that no one thought would ever come -- when they get the news that they're not going to just go home."
The Fultons begin many client relationships by designing a custom-made home plan, an exercise that helps each homeowner understand and articulate his or her home-life goals, and potentially avoid pitfalls later on.
“We try to get involved early in people’s retirement planning to help design a plan for staying in their home and ensure the spaces are inviting and architecturally appealing," Scott said. "It often calls upon some engineering creativity, but there are usually several good options.”
Perhaps the largest factor for couples and their families in planning for the future is whether or not to remain in the family home which, for many, becomes more of a burden than an asset. Bathrooms become danger zones, closets are unreachable, and mobility around the home, once taken for granted, is now a day-to-day struggle.
Home Ideations encompasses the entire process of a new home renovation, from design to construction, with a specialty in designing for retirement and disability needs.
As homeowners get older, the last thing they want to worry about is taking care of the endless "punch-list" of home projects and upkeep. Home Ideations' maintenance management service includes routine comprehensive checks of the home, an up-to-date maintenance schedule, and handyman services.
Home Ideations also provides a thorough list of all equipment and current services in an "e-binder" to help keep the home running smoothly.
The Fultons believe that the mission of Home Ideations is to recognize that each client wants to continue his or her life's story, in a place that is more than merely a structure that needs to be retro-fitted to suit their needs, but as a place of warmth and emotion, where some of their life's best moments have happened.
"We approach every client relationship we have with the understanding that they are a person or a family, first," Cindy said. "Not every aspect of what we do is applicable for everyone, so the success of what we do comes from determining what is needed and what's important for each person."
Home Ideations LLC works with families throughout Chester County. The company is available for seminars and presentations to church groups and 55+ community associations who are looking to better understand aging-in-place challenges and acquire some tools to help them develop their own home plans. To learn more about Home Ideations, visit www.homeideations.com, or call 302-584-6712.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.