Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Familiarity Is A Very Strong Reason For Aging-In-Place"

There are many reasons why people overwhelming choose or elect to remain living where they are as they grow older. Some do it by default - just never really giving it much thought but just continuing to remain where they are. Most people want to remain where they are because they are not interested in moving somewhere else. There are many reasons this is true, including the immense task of actually moving should that ever be the choice.

One of the key reasons for remaining put - staying where people are as they age - is the familiarity that their current home and neighborhood offers. There is no need to learn a whole new routine at a new address - or deal with the stress that comes with adapting to this change.

Familiarity manifests itself in the actual current home, in the yard around the home, in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the home, and in the services immediately available within walking distance or a short drive from the home.

When we wake up in the middle of the night - to visit the bathroom or get a glass of water, for instance - it's nice to know that we don't have to figure out where we are. We just walk the familiar route we have been taking for years. We can even do it in low light or no light - provided we haven't laced our path with obstacles. In fact, we can navigate our home if we need to when the power goes off unexpectedly - unlike when we travel or spend the night with friends or family and need a moment to realize where we are when we awaken during the night and suddenly things look unfamiliar to us.

So, we generally know where things are in our homes - we don't even have to think about it. We can go to the kitchen and open any drawer or cabinet and know what's inside - unless we recently rearranged items. We can look out any window and know what to expect. This is a good thing because we can immediately spot if anything is different or out-of-the-ordinary that might raise some concern.

We have a favorite place to sit to read or watch TV. We know which lights to turn on at various times of the day. We know what heat and cooling settings to use. We know how to prepare our favorite meals and snacks. We know where the coffee maker is - as well as the dry coffee and the mugs.

If it turns cool or begins to rain, we know where to find the items we need to put on to be comfortable - inside or out. We know where the tools are to tighten a screw, hammer a nail, trim the hedge, or cut the grass.

If we decide to go for a walk in the neighborhood - whether up the street and back, or around the block - we feel safe. We know if there are any dogs that might bark at us or could be loose as well as which routes are likely to be totally safe for us.

In short, remaining at home has dozens of advantages over moving and learning a routine all over again. We are experienced in our current homes, and that provides a great deal of comfort, safety, security, and peace-of-mind.

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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.