Sixteen years ago I got a call from my parents informing me of their intentions to sell their home on Ave I and E 22nd in Flatbush and move into an apartment on Ocean Parkway. They were in their low 80’s and walking up and down the stairs of their colonial was proving too much for them.  They were ready for 1 floor living. An excellent Idea I thought, but would it be possible I wondered, to get my parents closer to Teaneck. Travelling back and forth to Brooklyn would not be an ideal situation should I be needed.   

At that time in Bergen County and Teaneck, in particular, one floor living options, especially within an apartment setting were quite limited. My youngest son who at the time was learning at YU and working for me part time commented that maybe we should find a smaller house close to a synagogue and transform it into something that provided a generous one floor living experience. 

I ran an MLS search and sure enough a home walking distance to me as well as Bnai Yeshurun where I felt my father would happily attend (Sefard Minyan) had just come onto the market.  This opened my eyes to a process that has become broadly known as “Aging in Place.” My son and I hired an architect we felt would be sensitive to the needs of the elderly and she recommended following ADA compliant standards when thinking about how to design this home. 

And so it began: Widening of all hallways and doorways to 36” to accommodate the potential for wheelchairs, lowering of all kitchen cabinets and storage units to allow for easier and safer access for day to day stored items. Seated showering capabilities with all the right grab bars and anti slipping devices to ensure a safe experience. I was amazed at how well thought out many of these codes are and while it was a long process the results have been priceless. 

A few years ago I commented to my husband that I learned more about my parents in this last stage of their lives living in Teaneck, than all the many decades since I was married and left home. Instead of weekly trips across the bridges and tunnels of the city my 3 min drive to my parents has allowed for an incredibly close relationship.

And over the years this priceless experience has allowed me to help others in the community get their parents into similar living arrangements and make them aware of the potential for one floor living,  even in a place like Teaneck where so many of the homes only have bedrooms on the second floor. 

My father may he live and be well, turned 100 on the last night of Chanukah this year and as the weather gets nicer you may see him sitting out on the front lawn of his home on West Englewood Ave. He loves to wave and smile at all who pass by so be sure to look out for him.  


Nechama Polak is the Broker of Record and Owner of V and N Group LLC. V & N Realty is located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck, NJ. Feel free to email Nechama at nechamapolak@gmail.com or call 201.826.8809.