Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Aging In Place Solutions Usually Don't Come In Neat Little Packages"

No two snowflakes are said to be identical. No two fingerprints are, No two humans are although it is thought that everyone has a lookalike "twin" somewhere in the world. Maybe we have even run into that person or been mistaken for them.

Nevertheless, we all are individuals with very different tastes, likes, dislikes, and preferences. Even siblings that are close in age that grew up in the same home with the same parents can have very different outlooks on life. It can't all be attributed to their home life or their environment because in many ways it was identical.

What is different is the way we interpret what goes on around us, the way we internalize what we are witnessing and observing, and our general demeanor. Two people can see or hear the same news report and come away with vastly different interpretations of what it means to them or the people affected by what was reported. Our life experiences and our personalities shape the way we go through life.

We filter what we see and hear based on what has already transpired in our lives, how we see the world treating us, and our general outlook on what lies ahead - positive, negative, indifferent, or somewhere else on the scale.

Therefore, when we meet with someone and agree to evaluate their home for aging in place solutions, we aren't just faced with what we see physically. We also have that great intangible of their life experiences and attitude.

If it weren't for that, we might be able to offer a limited number of classic solutions for people based on the square footage of their living space, their age, the age of their home, the number of people living in the home, how much longer they want to remain living in the home, and the major functions in their home that are important to them. These all factor into a solution that might be created and recommended, but no two solutions are likely to be exactly the same. They could be similar but for different reasons and projected outcomes.

Thus, we can't just show up at someone's home and open our sample case to show them a few options from which they can pick. It's not that simple or that well-defined. It's all based on individual needs and requirements.

The whole point of creating aging in place solutions is that they are individualized and customized to the user. Thus, they can't be the same from house-to-house - even with similar physical characteristics of the homes - because each person's needs and abilities is different. There could be similar initial approaches, but each need has to be evaluated and treated accordingly.

There are reach, range of motion, stamina, balance, coordination, vision, hearing, strength, and other mobility concerns to be considered and factored into a design. The cognitive ability of someone is also a factor - as are how they use a space and their perceived need changes over time.

We can visit ten homes on the same street and come away with ten different design treatments because the needs of the occupants and the interior conditions and furnishings will not be identical. Even if all of the physical attributes of the homes were the same - and they won't be - the designs will still vary based on the lifestyle, background, likes, preferences, and needs of the individuals living in those homes.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, 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.