Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"It's Good That We All Have Different & Varied Experiences"

We like harmony in life - or at least we think we do. Most of us don't like conflict, but having total harmony is not so desirable either. Someone once said, when talking about partnerships. that if both of them agree all of the time, one of them is unnecessary.

The fact is that we all are different, having grown up in different ways with varied personalities - even spouses, siblings, or identical twins. Everyone is where they are in life for entirely different reasons. Some meant to be where they are, and others are lucky to be where they are. Some didn't have a clue they would end up where they are.

We all have had different life experiences which have taken us to where we are today - for better or worse, like it or not. Our challenge as aging in place professionals is to meet people where they are (and accept ourselves where we are at the same time) and help them adjust to the home they have now or make that home more desirable for them as they endeavor to remain in it.

For those who have not located their forever home as yet, there is still much that we can do to help them. Aging in place is not an age-driven or event-driven phenomenon. It's generally not a journey that someone sets out on - to find their ideal home. It's making the most - the very most - of our current living environment whatever our age, wherever we are living, and how many others might be sharing the space with us.

Everyone is different and approaches life differently – even if they grew up in the same household with the same parents. We have had our own friends, teachers, life experiences, work experiences, successes, disappointments, school experiences with band or sports, scouting or other youth activities, civic club memberships, and other day-to-day interactions with friends and strangers. In short, who we are today is the composite of myriad life experiences over the years that has helped to shape and mold us.

We have discovered our core values, principles, and ethics along the way, but they also have been affected in some ways - positively and not - by our experiences.

That lifetime of experiences acts as a filter for how we view and interpret life. What we want, what we expect, how we like to be treated, and how we treat and interact with others has been shaped in various ways by our experiences.

Where we grew up, who we associated with, hobbies we have now or ones we used to have but outgrew, clubs and organizations we have belonged to or still do, national or ethnic heritages we identify with or hold onto, business relationships we have, our general outlook on life, our health, and our general disposition all affect how we do life.

They affect how we view new ideas and possibilities that are presented to us – such as aging in place solutions. We may be content to remain in our present homes and accept them for what they are - even though they do not afford us the safety or room to move about easily that we would like. We may recognize that some improvements - whether we know how much they might cost and whether we might have that much money already set aside to accomplish them - would make our quality of life in our later years that much better.

There is no one solution that will apply to everyone, nor is there a typical solution that everyone will favor. After all, we have arrived at this point in time through vastly different paths. As aging in place professionals, we must appeal to people based on what they are willing to accept for themselves and what we believe is advantageous for them to have to accommodate their expressed and perceived needs.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, September 18, 2017

"Just How Busy Is Being Too Busy?"

Every now and then, we'll approach or talk to someone about working with us as a potential strategic partner or perhaps collaborating on another project with us, and we'll hear that they are too busy to even think about adding anything to their hopper. A nice problem to have - maybe.

Is this a matter of truly working at capacity, of not being willing to consider new business possibilities, of not being interested in growing a business, or in not appreciating how better organization or planning might allow for even more production and more revenue while serving more clients as a result.
  This raises the question of just how busy a person or company needs to be in order to consider themselves too busy for additional work, for referrals, for training or credentialing that may help secure new or additional business in the future, or to maintain an open line of communication with someone willing to help them grow their business?

It's possible to be working at capacity temporarily by having the maximum amount of work that reasonably can be undertaken and completed in a short time period, but this should not be any type of a long-term scenario.

If someone considers that their business is already maxed out, there are three possible things that can be done: enjoy the ride while it lasts, expand with more employees or trade partners and subcontractors to be able to handle the additional work - and even more, or scale back to a more manageable size. One way that businesses might get so busy is by taking on all-comers without a defined business model in place by which to gauge new projects as being an appropriate or unwise use of their resources to undertake.

We know that there are three functional areas of a business - any business regardless of the type, scope, or size. These are administration, sales, and production. If sales have been overly aggressive to the point of outpacing production (the ability to fulfill the orders sold) or administration (having sufficient personnel, capital, materials, and processes to get the orders completed), then the business needs to come back into realignment or the two underperforming segments of the business need to come to life.

There's a story told of a young energetic lumberjack who shows up on his first day of work determined to make a name for himself. He learns the record for the number of trees felled during a shift and sets his sights on besting that accomplishment. The first day he comes close but doesn't quite make it. The next day, he shows up a little earlier and works a full shift but still can't equal the record. The next day, he barely takes a lunch break and gets back to work. After a few days of this breakneck pace, his performance actually begins to decline. He tries harder and harder, but he can't make any headway on the record. Finally, a foreman notices his dedication and hard work but points out to him that he needs to take time to sharpen his tools.

If we are so busy taking on new work because it's there, and we may not be as particular about the type of assignment we undertake as we could be, we may indeed become overloaded to the point that we haven't been managing our business correctly.

We need to make sure that as we are growing our business that we are doing so with the jobs that a proper fir for our vision, mission, purpose, and business model. Otherwise, we face overload and possible burnout because the work won't be as fulfilling to his or have the proper meaning that it should.

It's nice to be busy, but it's even nicer being busy with work that is proper alignment with our core principles and values. This way we feel good about our business, and the clients get our best effort.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"We Can Say 'Yes' To Our Business By Saying 'No' Unimportant Demands"

Words don't need to be long ones or multi-syllable to be effective. They don't need to sound like a thesaurus was used to pick just the right expression. They can be quite short and convey a very strong yet simple message. One such word that does this is "no." "Yes" would be another, but let's look at how we can use the word "no" to enhance our business.

Notice that we said enhance our business, but "no" is often thought of as such a negative expression - almost combative at times. While it can signal an unwillingness to do something or lack of cooperation, it is a word that we use too infrequently in our business for asserting control and power.

"No" is one of the shortest words in our language, but one that generally conveys a clear meaning. There may need to an explanation that goes with it, but saying or hearing the word "no" usually means that whatever was asked was not the case or not desired. It doesn't have to be an impolite or ugly word although we often infer or interpret it be used in this way by the tone of voice or the way it was used. Nevertheless, the word "no" is just a brief expression that answers a question by indicating that something did not or will not happen, that a preference was not agreed to, or that a choice was not supported.

The word "no" also is one of the first words we learn as children. In fact, we may even learn it before being able to say other words such as our word for mother or water. We hear it used toward us - as in telling us what not to do or what to stay away from. We also find that it forms easily in our mouths and gives us a degree of independence by proclaiming what we don't want to do or don't like - as in trying a new food.

As we grow older, we shy away from saying no. We are told it is not polite. We are told that we need to be more positive. We are told we need to try new things. We want to fit in. We want to be liked. We don't want to appear negative. We learn to say "no" less and less.

Some of us have a compliant or amiable personality where we want to get along and really don't like telling people "no." We look for ways to make things work. We don't like conflict. We want things to work out and will do anything in our power to resolve apparent conflicts or issues. There is nothing wrong with this approach except that sometimes we can find ourselves, in a business setting, doing something to please another person or because we think we should rather than doing something because it advances the purpose or mission of our business.

If we want to do something and feel that it is in the best interest of our company and the clients we serve, that's great. On the other hand, if we really feel that an opportunity or something we are being asked to do is contrary or potentially harmful to our mission, purpose, client base, or people we work with as strategic partners, then saying "no" is the right response.

Saying "no" can be the appropriate response in several instances. When we are asked to do something we feel is not right ethically or legally, when we are presented an opportunity that is not a good fit for what we typically do (our business model), when we have a different objective for our client that they do, when we are not happy or satisfied with a suggested design as being what will benefit the client, when the time frame to accomplish a job is unreasonable, when the budget won't accommodate the job that needs to be done, or other situations like this, saying "no" is what we should do.

Then we can walk away from the situation with no regrets, no looking back, and no second-guessing ourselves. We were well within our rights as a professional to handle the matter this way. Now, we can move on to something more productive.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Even When A Forever Home Is Not Ideal, People Get To Remain In It"

It's great when people can remain in their home of choice as they get older and not have to leave their comfortable surroundings to relocate to a managed care or other type of facility. As aging in place professionals, we devote a tremendous amount of effort and energy in this direction to help people to stay in their current homes and then to adapt or modify those homes to provide for their continued comfort and safety as the years pass.

We would really like to ensure that they have the best of possible situations to remain living in, but what if that forever home they have selected (or allowed just to be) isn't perfect for them? What if they don't invite us to help them? What if they do engage us but have a limited budget so that their home still has some shortcomings even after we have finished our work?

That would mean that their home provides for them in a safer, more comfortable, with more convenient way than before, with fixtures and features and greater maneuverability that was the case before we started. We helped to get them to that point.

As much as we try and as much as we might want improvements for people, we might not be able to reach everyone or complete all of the work we would like to for various reasons.

First, some people will just refuse to do anything about their current home even though this is the one they have decided - either consciously or through default - that they are going to remain living in for as long as they can. They did not want to spend the money - even when they had it - to do anything about the comfort or convenience of their living space.

They resigned themselves to having the home that they had and figured that they would make do with what it was - even if there were challenges that they faced in terms of mobility, access, safety, or comfort. They adapted to what was there and made the most of it although they certainly could have done better with even some modest improvements.

Second, there are many people who may have engaged us to make improvements to their homes. They have modified their kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, laundry rooms, bedrooms. entrances, access to the second floor, and other areas of their homes. Some have spent a relatively modest amount even though they could have spent more, and there certainly was more that could have been done. Others have invested a significant amount in major overalls of their living environment.

They approached aging in place issues seriously and did what they could and what they was suggested to do to get ready for the coming years.

Third, there are people who have taken aging in place seriously and have had assessments done to determine a feasible course of action and have consented to investing in the recommended improvements. Their homes have served them well for a while. Then, changing physical or cognitive conditions began to outpace the improvements that had been envisioned and completed. They literally were outliving the usefulness of their home.

Thus, there are many ways - from doing nothing, to not doing enough, to doing what was recommended at the time but finding that inadequate in the future - that the forever home turns out to be less than perfect for its occupants. Still, it's far better than the alternative - moving out and going to an institution.

Even when the forever or long-term home comes up a little short for meeting the mobility, sensory, or cognitive needs of its occupants, they still get to stay in their homes. Their homes don't have to be perfect (can they ever be anyway?) - they just need to provide reasonably comfortable and safe shelter.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Aging In Place Doesn't Come With Any Entrance Requirements"

Fortunately for all of us, aging in place is something that we don't need to qualify for or wait until we are eligible. It means that people (us and our clients) at any age, income level, lifestyle, or physical ability can remain in their homes as long as they like at various stages of their lives but certainly as they get older. It means that whatever home people are living in now can be theirs to occupy for as long as they desire.

Ideally, the home that people are occupying long-term would safe, comfortable, and accessible for them, but that may not be the case. Nevertheless, that home does not disqualify someone. Regardless of whether people do anything to enhance their living environment to provide a more enjoyable living experience for themselves, they are still able to age in place. 

People are aging in place throughout their lifetime - wherever they are living at any moment in time. The challenge is to help them do it well. At those times when they are not in charge (living with their parents at a young age or living in a dormitory, for instance), we can still help them to make those accommodations as safe and as enjoyable as possible.

Aging in place is not something that is specified by the attainment of any certain chronological age. There is no official designation of a specific age that qualifies someone as "old enough" to begin to aging in place although there are many age thresholds for being considered a senior - 50 for AARP, 55 for many restaurants and other retailers, 60 for other retailers and barber shops, 62 to begin receiving social security, 65 for the traditional retirement age and medicare eligibility, and other ages for other purposes also.

Nevertheless, there is no official point in life when someone reaches an age when we consider that they are eligible to begin aging in place, People don't say that on their next birthday or in two years they can officially begin to age in place. They just do it. It may not even be a conscious choice. Actually, people age in place gradually and over an entire lifetime - at various stages and for various time periods along the way. Our challenge, as aging in place professionals, is to help people adapt to their surroundings at those various stages of life where they may find themselves.

Since aging in place is not age or event-driven - although the attainment of a certain age may cause someone to suddenly feel older or a health episode or accident can cause the aging or recovery process to become more apparent - we often look to solutions such as universal design and visitability to enact healthy and safe treatments for people before there are specific needs.

Aging in place may initially be a mindset - one in which people specifically desire to remain in their present home and to retain their independence and dignity as they grow older. It then needs for their home to cooperate with them and enable them to have the comfort, convenience, safety, and accessibility they require and desire to maintain a healthy and effective lifestyle in that home they have selected.

Aging in place, rather than a choice that is made, may also be something that just happens to people. They awake one day and realize that they haven't planned for it, but they have been living in their home for several years and likely will remain in it. Aging in place just crept up on them.

Regardless of how it happens that people find themselves living in their forever home, we need to help ensure that it can help them prepare effectively for life events and happenings while remaining grounded in familiar surroundings.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Homes Need To Be Safe, But There's Still A Lot Of Work To Do"

Fall weather is coming. It may not be present yet, but it's getting close. It's a time of year we look forward to for cooler weather, the harvest, fall color, and many other aspects of the changing season. We get to wear those sweaters and lightweight jackets that have been in the dresser or closet for a few months.

September is a transition month. Summer is in the rearview mirror but it's still quite pleasant outside. Nevertheless, September is designated as "Falls Prevention Month" to coincide with the beginning of the fall season.

As aging in place professionals, we know that there are so many injuries that can occur in and around the home from falls. So, let's make sure that the only type of fall we are talking about - for ourselves, our loved ones, and our clients - has to do with the weather and not one where someone is potentially injured.

Falls aren't limited to the elderly, but it seems to be more disastrous and longer lasting (even traumatic) when it happens to people who aren't quite as physically prepared to rebound well from an accidental fall.

We expect falls from the very young as they are adjusting to walking, maintaining their balance, and to life in general. Of course, they are more flexible and lower to the ground than an adult so they tend to become injured much less. Then the late teens and early twenties become a time when people try out various sports and outdoor activities - often viewed as risky by parents and other older adults. Young men seem to be especially vulnerable to falls from these physical adventures and the resultant head injuries or TBIs (traumatic brain injuries). 

While not true for everyone, as we get older our bones tend to become thinner and more brittle. Thus, falls become much more serious. Broken bones - especially hips - can take considerably longer to heal than is the case for a younger person and lead to other health complications.

Fall prevention relates back to personal safety and how well someone's home or apartment allows them to exist within it safely. Are the passageways open to permit free movement? Is the space comfortable? Are there obstacles that restrict mobility? Are items stored out in the open rather than put away? In general, are there clutter, loose rugs or flooring, or just too much stuff that is accumulating throughout the home?

Restricted access and passage, dizzying patterns (wallpaper, flooring, artwork, or upholstery, for instance), not enough lighting to illuminate spaces evenly and eliminate shadows or changes in elevation (especially minor ones), and glare that hides surfaces or creates the illusion of wetness are dangers that we cannot afford to let exist as long as we have some say in correcting them. This is our challenge - for our own residences, for our relatives and friends, and for our clients.

Let's take "Falls Prevention Month" as a serious reminder - and challenge - that this is a top priority all year (and not just the month of September). We need to vigilant in creating and maintaining safe, comfortable, convenient, and accessible dwellings for everyone that we have the ability to do so.

Visitability is a great concept to embrace and one that will help us focus on eliminating potential falling or tripping hazards as well.

Home safety begins at the curb and continues throughout the home into every facet of it - all the living spaces, the entrance and exit, the garage, basement, pool or spa, and backyard. Using appliances, power tools, yard equipment, cooking, preparing meals, grooming, showering, and so many other activities provide enjoyment for people or are considered essential activities, but they can be dangerous at the same time.

Fall prevention leads the list of being safe in and about our homes, but there are many other aspects of remaining safe that are important.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Bringing Our 'CAPS' To The Client's Door Is Just The First Step"

We take the CAPS training for many reasons, but one of them is to demonstrate to our clients, fellow professionals, and the marketplace in general that we care about the work we do and that we are interested in learning as much as we can about ways to serve our clients even more effectively.

In many cases, there is no magic in the CAPS curriculum that transforms a mediocre professional into a skilled service provider. There is training on how to work with people of various levels of ability or impairment - from none, slight, and more serious. Possible solutions, ways of looking at situations, and various products to employ in a solution are presented.

Still, as great as the CAPS designation is to have, it doesn't transform a contractor, OT, PT, designer, DME specialist, architect, real estate professional, or anyone else from an average professional to a top-notch aging in place specialist. It helps, but we have to add a little bit to the mix ourselves.

This is the challenge. We should hold ourselves to a higher level of competency for having the designation. There is no rigorous training and examination like there is for becoming a licensed general contractor, real estate broker, or architect, but we have the main tool to make us great - the designation and the training it represents.

We know that the client is going to respect someone with a CAPS designation more than a person without those four letters after their name. They are going to expect more from us, so we must as well.

Having the CAPS training and designation may get us inside the client's home to meet with them and discuss possible solutions for their needs or requirements, but it can't stop there. We must have a passion for working with and helping people who want to remain in their homes long-term. We must share with them our enthusiasm for creating effective solutions that will accomplish their aims. Other contractors - possibly other CAPS trained contractors may be able to provide the solutions they seek, but we need to impress upon them that we can complete them with more expertise than others they might choose to use.

Our CAPS designation is a great starting point for the relationship with our clients, but it can't be the only reason they select us to help them. It will open the door, and then we need to convince them that we have a tremendous amount of ability, insight, and experience to offer them.

Our designation may open the door, but we have to use our skills, assessment abilities, design sense, and solution execution to create what they need and want for the budget they have. We have to do it with a minimum amount of mess in their homes (particularly if they are going to remain present during the renovation), and we have to look like we have done this project successfully in the past - even if this is our first attempt at this type of solution.

When we are finished, we want them to be glad they insisted on using a CAPS- trained professional (singularly or as a team), and we want them to tell their friends and others they talk with about the great experience they had in working with a CAPS professional. Then, the door to other homes will open for us.

Just remember as we are approaching the client's project that someone without the CAPS background may not have the sensitivity to their issues or to working in their home and range of solutions that we offer them. The CAPS designation is powerful. Let's showcase it and not hide it.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"The Three Things To Keep In Mind About Your Linked In Profile Photo"

There are three important things to keep in mind when creating or maintaining a Linked In profile when it comes to our photo. First is to have one - not everyone does. Second is for it to be current - high school or college graduation photos won't do. Third is to have no one else in the photo.

Not everyone who is an aging in place professional has a Linked In account. That really needs to change. Linked In is a very powerful search engine and is very useful for connecting us with professionals that we can use and who need what we offer. Looking for an OT, PT, real estate agent, life insurance agent, insurance adjuster, trust or contracts attorney, drywall contractor, plumber, electrician, general contractor, DME specialist, or dozens of other specialties? Find them on Linked In - at least for the people who have profiles, and that is happening more and more. Find them by geographical area also. The reverse is true when someone needs to connect with us for a client they have in our area or for our expertise in a certain area.

Therefore, we need to have a photo of ourselves in our profile - one that is recognizable as us. It should not from a hundred yards away or in a crowd of people. It doesn't have to be a photo studio headshot, but that is the size we're looking for. It should be a photo of us and only us -  no dogs, boy friends, girl friends, partners, spouses, children, motorcycles, golf clubs, or anything else. It can have our logo in it if we are standing or seated in our office, but keep it from becoming too busy.

The photo does a couple of things for us. It personalizes our profile and it helps people connect with us. No one likes to connect with a "witness protection photo" - that gray silhouette that is the default photo placeholder. People like to see what we look like when they connect with us. They are making any type of judgment about our appearance; they just want to see who they are connecting with. Also, if someone were ever to meet us in person, they should immediately recognize us because of our published photo. If our hair is longer, shorter, a different style or color, or we have glasses when we didn't or we don't when we did - or anything else that modifies our appearance - we should use a newer, updated photo.

Photos are so easy and quick to take today. Again, it doesn't need to be done in a studio. Get a friend, family member, or colleague to take it. Take a selfie. The important thing is that it be relatively current and just us with no one else in the photo.

Linked In is a personal connection platform. Other social media sites are as well, but here we are looking to find business professionals that we can work with, refer clients to, or involve in some aspect of our business. If we have employees, it's a great recruiting tool as well.

No matter how we use Linked In, including just being on it so others can find us, the photo is the place to begin. Choosing a good story, headline, keywords. and other aspects of building a professional resume are important also, but the photo comes first.

If we already have a photo included in our profile, is it current enough and clear enough for someone to recognize us immediately when they see us? If not, that is easy enough to fix. Take the new photo and upload it - very quick process.

By the way, search Linked In for other aging in place professionals to connect with and grow your network, and don't forget to join the Linked In group "Aging & Accessibility"


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Moving Into A Nursing Home Is Not One Of Life's Planned Moves"

When we start out in life, we live with our parents. We may or may not live in more than one home as we are growing up and going through our schooling. Some families move frequently, and some do not. However, we know that at some point we will be moving on from our parents' home and getting a place of our own. We may return temporarily to live with our parents (after college or the military, after a relationship doesn't work, or when we begin a job in another city and leave it for greener pastures back home) as is becoming a more common choice, but typically the housing journey begins when we leave our parents' home.

After leaving home initially, there are several moves that a person might make in their lifetime, depending on whether they remain in the same city or general area or if they are more mobile geographically. Part of it is going to be driven by their occupation and where the job opportunities are or if there is a lot of mobility in those positions.

Generally, the first move for someone is one of three types - going to college, joining the military, or getting their first apartment. It varies by the individual, and sometimes there is a choice in the location and the amount of rent paid, and other times (college dormitory or military, for instance) that choice is limited or not there. As already mentioned, the move-back to live with parents again is becoming increasingly common and now accounts for a rather large segment of the under 30 population.

Nevertheless, that first residence could be for a few months or a year or more (particularly with a lease). To finish college or that first job, a person might occupy several apartments.

The point is that this is a customary move and the first solo move for an individual.

After that, there typically is a series of other moves. There can be other apartments - in the same city or area or in a different location. A person might change colleges or move from a dormitory to a house or apartment. There is no set amount of moves a person is expected to make or residences they should occupy before finding that first home to purchase and own. Of course, some people are lifelong renters and never do purchase a home.

Regardless, a person will find a home - rented or purchased, single family, townhome, row house, or apartment (such as a condo). They may like this home so well that they stay in it indefinitely - essentially aging in place long-term in this location. They may stay for just a short time.

Whether it's their first home, their third home, their fifth, or some other number, a person is going to find that permanent home - the one they want to stay in because they like it, it meets their needs, and the like the location. They see no reason to move from it and trying to find something better. This is as good as they need.

So, is there still one more move for them - a move into a nursing home or managed care facility? In a previous tiome, quite likely. Today, this is not an automatic part of the progression. It is not one of life's planned moves, and many people never make it.

Today - especially with our help as aging in place professionals - a person might live the remainder of their life (however long that is) independently in their own home. Moving from it is not automatic or even a viable option for many. Nursing homes are no longer considered as just the next move a person makes.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Is A Successful Model On Aging In Place Possible?"

Oh, wouldn't it be great if some agency developed the prototypical model for what successful aging, and more particularly aging in place, should look like in this country (or even other countries also) - along with steps to be taken to accommodate specific senior concerns - and then somehow managed to get it promulgated into law? 

Either way, you answer - in favor or against, there's not much chance of it happening for many reasons. We can talk about it, complain that it doesn't exist, wish for it come into being, but there is almost no chance it could ever happen.

The primary reason it can't happen is the diversity - of ages, needs, physical abilities and requirements, and the individual characteristics of housing units and structures.

There can be policies or best practices developed. There can even be some laws passed. However, creating a national guideline with the law behind it that would tell people how they needed to live, how homes had to be built, and how public facilities had to be accommodating would only appeal to a certain amount of the population while ignoring the rest. We already have many initiatives that focus on seniors and aging. We have the ADA, UFAS, and ANSI that tell us how to create homes and areas of public accommodation for people with physical limitations.

What we don't have in this country - and never will - is a homogeneous population or housing stock. Even within a given age cohort or generation, there is a tremendous amount of diversity. While we can make generalizations about Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials, there is a tremendous amount of variance in social behavior in addition to any similarities that might exist.

Even within a given household of more than one person, there may be common values but a difference in ability and needs. How, then, can we have an umbrella policy or set of guidelines that describes how homes are to be constructed or appointed that appeals to everyone? Even using universal design that suggests that the features will appeal to all ages and abilities, we know that there are some special needs that require even more treatment. We know that some people require accessibility improvements to accommodate the specific type of impairment.

Rather than wish for a set of rules or guidelines that would suggest best practices for people to age successfully in their homes or to recommend features to install or include in those homes to assist people with their aging needs, let's continue to allow our personal inspection of a space and determination of what we think is best for the individuals in that dwelling as we create client-specific recommendations for them.

Who knows better than us - and the team we assemble - how to analyze a specific living space and the requirements and needs of the individuals in that space to determine what is needed and to formulate a strategy for achieving the improvements that will help them at a budget they can fund?

Any model that might be created - assuming that it could - would necessarily look at trends and commonalities. It could not take into account the tremendous variations in the age of dwellings, the physical characteristics of those structures, and the physical needs and requirements of individuals. As with any average, some would be in the middle and would fall under what was created. Other would fall away from the center toward either end and could not be addressed by such a policy.

This keeps us, as aging in place professionals, squarely in the loop of deciding what is best for our clients based on how we evaluate their specific situations and needs.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.