Many of our communities and their home owners associations have been around on Maui for generations. While owners come and go, some are long-time residents, aging in place on our beautiful island. When an HOA board is made up of younger residents, it can be easy to forget about the senior members of the community. However, every community member matters, including HOA aging residents. HOAs may want to consider adjustments to accommodate more elderly homeowners.
1. Stay current on laws and other needs
Age brings forth a number of disabilities, such as problems with vision and motor skills. These disabilities, while unfortunate, can give rise to legal liability for your HOA. Therefore, it is important to always stay on top of updated regulations to help shield your HOA from legal liability.
There may also be legislation from time to time, dictating how you should approach aging HOA residents. The HOA board should check for new legislation in the fall and spring to incorporate into the association’s policies or budget.
2. Review Areas of the Community That Can Have Improved Safety
This is particularly true if a larger percentage of your residents cannot move as much as they could before. If you have more residents using wheelchairs or walkers, uneven pavement may cause them to have serious but avoidable accidents.
Our population is aging, with most seniors expressing a desire to age in place. This will create increasing challenges for HOAs in the future, as boards must address reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other senior related issues. Boards will need to review requests and take concerns very seriously, and consult an attorney for planning advice.
3. Ensure Aging Community Members Can Comply with Guidelines
Review your HOA policies and guidelines through the lens of an aging senior. Will they have difficulty complying with some? For example, many communities have strict regulations about landscaping that require residents to perform maintenance on their lanai or entry way. Perhaps negotiating with a contractor for a discounted price to maintain these areas that a senior resident can opt into would be helpful.
Try and strike a balance between good maintenance and high standards the HOA holds for the property with a good quality of life for seniors by adapting rules as necessary. This may have a positive result in higher resident retention rate, maximizing dues, increasing property values and having more appeal to attract new residents.
4. Maintain Emergency Contacts for Residents
Another popular option for HOAs is to have a list of emergency contacts for all residents regardless of their age. This is a particularly favorable option for communities that have many older residents.
By having an emergency contact list, it can help HOAs communicate necessary information to close relatives of residents should the need arise. Residents may also feel assured that, if something does happen, the HOA can get in touch with their preferred contact. Consider this option carefully if the majority of the residents within your community are older.
5. Host Regular Community Events
One thing your HOA may realize is that many of your older residents can no longer drive or travel as much as they once did. When this occurs, it is an opportunity for your HOA to organize more community events where these residents can establish stronger connections with their neighbors.
Make sure to allocate a certain amount of your HOA budget for events catered to your residents who may be looking for a community closer to home. You may find residents are happy to participate and form closer relationships with their neighbors.
6. Communicate with Elderly Residents
Part of taking care of aging residents is maintaining an open line of communication with them. This way, elderly residents can voice out their concerns and feedback with ease. Remember that older residents are not as familiar with technology as younger residents. With this in mind, develop a method of communication that the HOA board and senior residents can both use.
7. Evaluate the Age of Your Community Members Annually
Each year, your HOA should survey the age of each household within your community. The reason for this is that there may be years where old HOA residents sell their properties and younger families move in.
There may also be a year where more elderly residents purchase property to transition from a traditional home to a condo or planned community. By taking an annual survey, your HOA can focus its programming and repairs on the services that will impact the largest percentage of your residents.
Every Community Member Counts
Aging is a natural part of life. Unfortunately, we live in a world that often disregards our kupuna. In an HOA community, every member is important, aging residents included. By keeping their needs in mind, an HOA can ensure senior residents are well taken care of.