Interview with Aaron D. Murphy, Empowering the Mature Mind

This is another post in the series of interviews of experts on aging in place. At the end of this article is a list of other posts that you might be interested in.

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Aaron D. Murphy

Aaron D. Murphy is a businessman and entrepreneur, as well as a philanthropist in his community in the suburbs of Seattle. His career in architecture and real estate includes being a “Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist” (CAPS certification through NAHB).

To learn more about this program, please visit his firm, ADM Architecture’s Aging in Place page. He also operates Empowering the Mature Mind (EtMM) and authors there the blog “Murph’s Mind“. EtMM develops products related to sharing information on:

1) The Psychology of the Built Environment – “The mind / Architecture connection”.

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Kitchen by Murphy

2) Architectural Consulting: for “Aging-In-Place” in the home & your own community. Creating INCLUSIVE designs for “Forever Homes”, as well as our neighborhoods cities and counties.

3) Speaking, Teaching, Coaching, Consulting, and Mentoring: for Baby Boomers, their parents, children, and families on their options to be able to successfully STAY AT HOME as they age, with INDEPENDENCE and DIGNITY.

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Shower by Murphy

Aaron has been public speaking on a regular basis for almost 3 years now, with his most requested presentation being “The Aging In Place Phenomenon: How to Live Happily Ever After in your OWN HOME”  He’s recently shared his ASA national “Aging In America” Slide Deck from Chicago with the public, to raise awareness of what he’s doing and why it matters – It’s been viewed over 200 times in just the first DAY since he posted it… clearly it’s a sought after topic people NEED information about!!! You can find that here:

He’s spoken to rooms of 250+ including mayors, legislators, city council members, city and county planners, real estate developers, and real estate agents as well as to smaller rooms including Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and similar clubs, as well as trade associations. Murphy brings his passion, expertise, and sense of humor to the stage with his “A-game” every single time!  Audience members have commented “That was one of the most memorable speakers I’ve ever seen on stage”, and “Wow – Informative and truly entertaining at the same time!”.

Murphy has been interviewed for articles, and has been a contributing author to websites, blogs, magazines and newspapers across the nation.  He has also interviewed some of the nations thought leaders in his industry on the most topical, timely, valid and valuable topics to his community, from Maryland to Texas to Portland.  He was recently been asked to join other thought leaders on the national stage in Chicago to present at the ASA “Aging In America” conference in March, 2013.

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Encore Living Radio

In September 2012, he started co-hosting a live radio show called “Encore Living” in the Seattle market. They’ve just switched to a national market via BlogTalk Radio. You can listen in every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 9am – check here for listings and archived episodes:

Who else is Aaron, when he’s not at work?

I love spending time with my beautiful kids, and getting outside with them (when our weather allows it) for some nature time and fresh air! Good parenting can be a full time job easily in its own right, and that keeps me pretty darn busy all by itself, when I’m not at work.

I strive for balance in my life, as it makes each part of what you do more efficient and beneficial. I enjoy many sports: basketball, baseball, tennis, racquetball, skiing, gym/weights, etc. I am getting back on the tennis court and racquetball court more regularly again. I am also pursuing meditation with a goal of “daily practice,” and I am trying to read more (non-work related) literature that’s been on my shelves for quite awhile related to personal growth, spirituality, and related topics. I constantly work to find that balance between work-life and the rest of my life, while still providing the best customer service to my clients!

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Step in shower

Aaron, where are we today on enabling people to age in place if that is what they want to do?

It seems to be a double edged sword. On the one side, everyone says they want to age in place, and that would be the most economical approach for most of us if we would plan ahead and be ready for when we need some kind of accommodations in our homes. On the other side, when I speak at forums, conferences, and the like, I first try to get the audience’s attention. For example, I talk about Hillary Clinton’s fall and ‘if it can happen to the Secretary of State, it can happen to you.’ On another occasion, I acted like I tripped and fell on my way to the podium and everyone gasped and asked if I was okay: this allowed me to address everyone, asking them what they would do if I had been their mother or grandfather and that their loved one needed to be taken to the hospital, undergo surgery, weeks-long rehabilitation, and then wanted to go home?

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Ground floor bedroom ready to go!

Yet, even after making this intimate connection with them, and talking about changes that should be made to their homes to accommodate someone like that, no one in the audience came up to me at the end and said that they were moved to do anything about it! It just might be that we are being hypocrites about it, with our heads in the sand — that we will not do anything until the accident happens and it is too late to make our home accessible.

What about the technology versus the psychology of aging?

Well, certainly the technology is about 5 to 8 years ahead of its system development. We now have such great products as Philips LifeLine and other in-home monitoring systems coming into the public’s consciousness at the present time, but that the technology has been available for years. The challenge is to design incorporating such technologies and assistive systems considering multiple expertise. Any local handy man can install a grab bar, but does he know that the color white causes vertigo in Alzheimer’s patients? Does he know the best height as recommended by the user’s occcupational therapist or geriatric care manager or family home care provider? How many grab bars should he install and where? Is the grab bar surface too smooth for someone with reduced grasping capabilities or is it too rough for sensitive senior skin?

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Decorative and functional grab bars

Concerning the psychology of aging, the terms “aging in place”, “senior”, “elder”, “older”, and so many other true terms are not politically correct. That is why I chose my website name “”. Okay, fine… so if YOU don’t have a problem (YOU being anyone over 60, say, who’s in denial about getting older) — Let’s talk about everyone else around you that has issues J. Can ANY person of ANY ability get into your home easily and maneuver around it comfortably? Atlanta is doing a nice job of taking this angle to the discussion, terming it the “visit-ability” movement!

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Aaron in the studio

We have so much to be thankful for – we have gained 30 years more longevity in the last century. We can generally expect to live to the ripe old age of closer to 90 rather than 60 nowadays. But how we get around when we are 80 will be a bit different than when we are 60, which is different than when we were 40, and we should be thinking and planning now, not only for our parents but also for ourselves.

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Cabin by Murphy

I can’t thank you enough for spending time with us and getting our attention. I’d like to refer everyone reading this post to one of Aaron’s most helpful recent posts on his own blog, at Murph’s Mind, providing a list of items under A Low (or NO) Cost and Common Sense Review of your HOME. Thank you so much, Aaron!

Other interviews with experts on the subject of aging in place are:

Laurie Orlov, Aging in Place Technology Watch

Alesha Churba, Design with the Future in Mind

Tom and Lynn Wilson, The CareGiver Partnership

Ignatius Fanlo, Lively

Gail Zahtz, Universal Design Advocate

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