Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"Complacency, Acceptance, And Denial All Thwart Our Efforts To Help People"

One of the significant challenges in helping people age-in-place successfully is their attitude of acceptance and complacency. As much as we, as aging-in-place professionals, have the knowledge, motivation, and ability to help people modify their living environments, that is a big hurdle to overcome for many people.

Even people with issues that limit their vision, hearing, or mobility, they may have gotten so used to coping with their situation that they are indifferent or actually opposed to any efforts to help them improve the way their home allows them to live and be in it.

We know as humans that we are very resilience, tolerant, and resourceful so we understand how someone can just get used to living with a condition that may be providing daily challenges as to how they get around in and use various aspects of their home - doorways, hallways, stairs, appliances, kitchen and bath fixtures, switches, furniture, flooring, and lighting, for instance.

Still, we want to help them live better in their homes - rental or owner-occupied.

We recognize that it could to be a significant challenge for people to unlock or open doors, to access cabinets where they keep cookware or foodstuffs, to wash their hands and dishes, keep things organized and put away, use the bathroom, prepare meals and clean up afterwards, and perform many other regular functions. 

We also understand how people can get into a routine of ignoring, accepting, coping, or otherwise just dealing with shortcomings or issues their homes present to them. They have learned how to get by with what they have, and in some cases overcoming this type of adapting will be a major challenge. They may push back and decline to consider any changes that would benefit them or enhance their quality of life - as we perceive it. They may think they are doing quite well as they are.

Of course, we can't force someone to make changes unless they are living in a home deemed to be unsafe or unsanitary by local authorities. Otherwise, it's up to us to try to persuade people that they can live a more comfortable existence than what they have now.

Just keep in mind that as much as we might have the interest in helping people and the tools to do so, we can't force our ideas or solutions onto anyone. They have to want it. We can't help everyone - even those that we consider to be very needy of a home improvement. Therefore, we have to keep looking for those who can benefit from what we offer who also are interested in having our help. That should still keep us quite busy.

If we can convince people who may have accepted their current situation as not being that difficult or inconvenient for them that they can have a safer, more comfortable, more convenient, more accessible living environment, then we can move forward with them. They may have a very small budget or need helping with financing their improvements. That's another matter. For now, let's see if we can help anyone who needs a renovation but hasn't seriously considered it before we meet with them.

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Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, 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.