Sunday, October 9, 2016

"Aging-In-Place Doesn't Need To Be As Complicated As It Might Seem"

For some, the idea of aging-in-place seems like something that needs to be planned for in advance. For others, it's just something that more-or-less happens - whether one is ready for it or not and regardless of whether any specific steps are undertaken to help ease into it. Actually, both approaches work.

We tend to think, with all of the focus and attention given to creating effective living spaces for people as they get older, that advance planning needs to occur and that money needs to be spent to modify homes for people to make them safer, more comfortable, enjoyable, and accessible. 

While this can be true, what if it doesn't happen? What if nothing is done to some homes and people just continue living in them without doing anything at all to help address their aging needs? Are they going to be able to age-in-place anyway? 

In the short term, the answer is yes. They will be able to age-in-place in those homes, even if they offer less than ideal conditions. The amount of time someone can continue living in a home that is not safe, accessible, or comfortable for them might be limited, but barring any major difficulties in getting around and living in that space, this could be a long time.

While doing nothing for people is not what we are all about, simple solutions can have a great impact. We can help people to age well in their homes by suggesting and creating some very effective simple solutions. While there is nothing wrong with more elaborate and expensive solutions, they just aren't necessary for many people. They can do well with just minor adjustments to their living space.


While it might be great to have a template that we could go from home-to-home using and installing solutions for people, that simply is impractical and not necessary. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for creating aging-in-place solutions because it depends on several factors such as the occupants of the homes, their needs and requirements, their budget and ability to pay for any improvements, and the age and condition of the home itself.

In the final analysis, doing just a little might be quite effective for many people - especially those without urgent medical needs who just need their homes to be a little more comfortable, generally accessible, and as comfortable as possible for them without going to major efforts to create more modifications than really are necessary.

Going on the less is more concept, there are many universal design applications that can be employed without a lot of effort, work, expense, or disruption. This will greatly enhance the living experience of seniors remaining in their homes with a fairly simple, straightforward approach. Depending on what they prefer, the style of their homes, how much work they can pay for, and what might already exist, repairs and improvements can be designed and installed quickly and easily.


To be sure, some improvements - especially those that are medically necessary or have a medical component involved - will require much more planning and be a relatively larger scale to design, create, and implement. Still, they don't need to be overly complex or complicated - just effective.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., 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.