Monday, May 22, 2017

"There's No Point In Being PC - We Are Aging - So Let's Face It Head-On"

Mention aging in place to someone not familiar with the term, and they may have a misconception about its purpose - maybe from something they have read or heard. Often, people get the idea that people need to plan in advance to age in place, that they need to have a lot of money to make necessary improvements, or that they can only stay in their homes until they require help to attend to their daily needs. Fortunately, none of this is true.

Money helps, and advance planning helps, but neither is a prerequisite for effective aging in place. Aging in place is as much a mindset or paradigm as it is is a physical treatment or process. Aging in place begins with the desire to remain living at home. From there, many paths are possible.

People can elect to do nothing but continue living in their homes. They may not afford as much light, safety, convenience, and accessibility as we would like for them to have, but they can continue living there indefinitely, and thus age in place. If it becomes a real safety issue, someone may intervene from the city, county, or a social agency. Otherwise, they are free to age in place on their own terms by doing nothing to modify, update, or modernize their dwelling.

Again, all of us are aging whether we are living at home with our parents, are away at college, have joined the military, have purchased our first home, have raised a family and easing into empty-nesthood, or are well into retirement.

Some people intentionally want to improve their home living environment. Depending on their budget, and the physical needs of themselves and their homes that they need address, they can make a few modest changes to several much more dramatic and impactful ones.

Those that are in a position to know that they want to make some changes to their home to make it more compatible with the way they are living in and using their home now - and way they envision it over the next few years - can enlist our services to help them.

Those who might not be aware of what changes they should consider or who need to address specific physical limitations they have should enjoy working with us. They have to find us first, then we can help them. This is where a network of referring professionals comes in handy.

Whether people make specific plans to age in place where they are (with a few minor or several major renovations), they just let life happen without embracing aging in place or trying to stop it, or they look for another home that they feel is better suited for where they want to spend the remainder of their lives, people are wanting to remain in a home of their choosing - typically where they are right now.

Thus, aging in place is a real concept - not a fad, if it ever was considered as such. People love their homes - or at least the idea of remaining in them when faced with the alternative of trying to move. The one constant in all of this is aging itself.

Look at the cosmetic, fashion, travel, entertainment, and so many other industries where the message is that we don't have to look as though we are getting older. We can retain our youthful appearance and deny that we are aging. Looking good is fine. Denial may work for a time, but eventually it will be time to accept that the years are passing.

Regardless of much we like to think and act young and deny that we are aging, the fact is that we are. Call it anything but aging - put a nice catch phrase on it, relabel it to something more PC if possible, or even ban the use of the word aging - nothing can halt it. SO, let's embrace that all of us are getting older and vow to do the best with each passing day (and year) that we are given - both to live in our homes well and to help our clients do the same.

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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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.