Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Commencement Exercises Aren't Just Limited To The Young Or Those In School"

This time of year, as spring draws to a close, the school year also is winding down. This means commencement exercises for many twelfth-graders, college seniors, friends and family of theirs, others who may be involved in graduating from a grade or course of study, and faculty and staff of those schools. 

Commencement is a special time - a coming-of-age-event - for those experiencing and their friends and family members. Their age or the number of years it took to get to that point are immaterial. Some people take longer than others and have more challenges to overcome in completing their studies and reaching the finish line. Still, graduation marks the end of many years of preparation, class attendance, study, and relationships, yet it is labeled as commencement. What an interesting juxtaposition of terms. The end is the beginning. The event recognizing completion is termed the time of a new start. 

Actually, commencement is the perfect term - odd as it may seem to someone hearing it out of context or not viewing it from the proper perspective. While the commencement event, or exercises as they often are called, marks the completion of a course of study and satisfaction of the requirements to graduate from high school, college, graduate school, technical school, or some other program, they also signify the beginning or transition into another area of life. A new chapter in their life lies ahead of them. They have completed what they have been about to this point and now are launching a new direction.

In this sense, we can look at people - our clients - who are looking at aging-in-place modifications that we might undertake or recommend to the as attending their own form of commencement exercises. They might be considerably older in years that a typical graduate, but the commencement parallel exists.

When people need home modifications to facilitate easier or safer entry into their homes, better movement within their space, more conveniently located controls and storage areas such as shelves and cabinets, and generally more control over their living environment and daily activities, they are ready to shut the book on the way they have been living and commence a newer, better lifestyle.

They might need to achieve a better sense of well-being from being in their homes - the ability to see better and navigate their hallways and other spaces, enjoy freedom from falling, feel safer from intruders, and feel that they are ruling their homes instead of letting their homes have the upper hand. Independence comes from being able to remain living at home but also in having those homes be user-friendly to them.

While we typically think of people in their teens and twenties completing high school or college when we hear the term commencement, let's now view this idea in terms of the ways we can help our clients and the marketplace in general say goodbye to an existence in their homes that was less than ideal for them and to a commencement of a much more satisfactory approach to living and remaining in their current homes.

Happy commencement to all those experiencing it and marking a new chapter in their lives.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist 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.