Sunday, November 27, 2016

"The Accidental Or Incidental Aging-In-Place Home"

All of us are aging. All of are aging-in-place. Where else would we be doing it? It is only natural that we include people living where they are - regardless of their medical needs, age, or housing requirements - among our aging-in-place sphere.

Even if they choose to do nothing about their current living space to make it safer, more comfortable, more accessible, or more convenient to use the appliances, features, and fixtures in their home, they still are aging-in-place.

The interesting thing - and arguably the most wonderful thing about aging-in-place - is that there are no parameters. Does living in a home for a certain number of days, months, or years make one eligible for aging-in-place considerations but less time does not? Of course this is not the case. Living in a dwelling for a very short period of time does not negate our ability to help or our concern about them having a safe and comfortable living space - whether an apartment, home, or something shared with someone else such as a friend or their parents.

There is no age attainment required. A person 25 can age in place the same as a person age 65 except for the peculiarities of the dwelling and their own physical capacity.

So often we focus on the people who consciously want to do something about their homes as they age. They want safer entrances, easier to access tubs and showers, safety devices, and electronics installed. This is great, and they should have these items. We enjoy adding them because we know how useful they are.

What about the accidental home - the one that is never consciously declared to be in need of aging-in-place treatments? What can we do? We can note our concern with each other. We can attempt to reach out to the occupants and learn if they are experiencing any challenges of difficulties. They may be surviving just fine - maybe not the way that we would like to do it ourselves, but it is working for them and there are no obvious safety concerns.

Education and communication are large parts of reaching an audience that seems to be hidden from view. Just to identify them and start telling them what they need or what we would recommend they have without learning if there is an immediate need or if there is any interest in having any help would not serve our purposes - or theirs. We can only go where we are appreciated. We might be needed in many more places, but if the welcome mat is not out for us it's much more difficult to create effective solutions.

People are going to age-in-place. It's a fact of life. They will get older in the home or apartment where they are living. The challenge is identifying those individuals who are not experiencing life as well as they might and to offer them help to create a more functional living space for them. For those willing to do this, we are all-in. For those not willing or less willing to have any help, we can only do so much - only offer our support and suggestions, but they have to take the first step.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., 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.