Saturday, November 26, 2016

"New Beginnings In Familiar Surroundings"

The idea of aging-in-place is that people get to go on living in the homes they love and never need to move from them. It doesn't matter how long they have lived in those homes, where those homes are physically located, how much those home are worth, when they were built, how large or small they are, or how well those homes might meet the needs of the people living in them.

The important thing, initially, is that the occupants of those homes have decided to remain living in them. Next comes the challenge of making sure those homes are as safe and accommodating as possible.

People who are aging-in-place could be relatively new to their homes, or they could have been born in them. There are many reasons for people choosing the homes they have, but the concept of them making the decision to go on living there is admirable.

Our role is to help as many of them as we can make sure that those homes provide the type of access, enjoyment, comfort, safety, and security that is reasonable based on how the homes are designed, the condition they are in, and the budgets (or funding sources) that people might have (or that we might be able to identify for them) to go toward any improvements.

Some homes are going to present more challenges than others in terms of the way they are laid out, the relative spaciousness of them, how wide the hallways and doorways are, the state of the plumbing and fixtures, the number of steps that must be climbed to reach the front door, and other similar issues. Some will be easier to deal with and overcome than others also.

The truth is that even if nothing is done to improve any home, they still can be forever homes and allow people to remain in them - maybe not to the degree of safety and comfort that we would like but habitable anyway.

Now that we are getting ready to embark on a new year, there are additional challenges that we need to help people face who are remaining in their homes - storage, organization, and general clutter. They have another year of accumulation unless something intentional is done to remove the unnecessary materials.

The new year means new opportunities and a chance for our clients to turn the corner on anything that has been holding them back. Whether its improving safety by installing grab bars or replacing worn flooring, or installing better lighting such as LEDs that can provide a more consistent lighting source and generally in more places, or whether its helping people organize and store what they are holding onto and get rid of items they can emotionally afford to do so.

There is no time limit to perform the helpful actions, but the sooner we can get to them, the better off our clients are going to be. In some cases, there will be little expense involved - just our time. This is perfect for lower income seniors. In other cases, there are going to need to be some improvements made to the dwelling spaces. Depending on the extent of them, the length of time people can tolerate the disruption in their homes, and the sources of money to pay for the projects, this will determine what work gets done.

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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.