Thursday, June 29, 2017

"Like It Or Not, Aging Happens - So Does Aging In Place"

Whether we or anyone else likes the idea of aging or we want to admit that we are getting older and maybe have lost a step or two, it's a fact of life. Considering that we are still alive, life is still good. We can pursue youthful activities as long as we feel that we can, but there's no point in kidding ourselves that we actually are years younger than what the calendar shows.

There are little annoyances that come throughout life - often temporary but not necessarily. These can be brief illnesses, joint and muscle aches, vision or balance difficulties, or other impairments that affect us from time-to-time that we live with and move on. We generally don't associate them with aging or getting older specifically but with an activity that may have caused it, such as too much yardwork, playing sports with other adults or with the kids, being around people with colds or the flu, or similar cause and effect situations.

Nevertheless, aging - and by extension, aging in place - is something we all do. This goes on whether there is conscious thought applied to it or not. It is not age or event driven. There can create more of an awareness of our age or physical limitations (such as joint soreness or stiffness, the ability to reach or lift something, or our stamina) as we grow older, but the mere fact of aging has little to do with it. Generally, there are other contributing factors.

None of us receives any type of formal notification from any governmental office on any milestone birthday (40, 50, 60, 65, 70, for instance) that we have now entered the aging in place market - we have arrived by virtue of age attainment. We may be notified about something else that our age qualifies us for, but aging in place is not it.

We continue to live where desire for as long as we desire. For some that means living most of their life in the same home. For others, it's a place they find after raising a family and then make that their long-term, forever home. Some are still looking for a home that they want to remain in long-term, regardless of their current age or how many homes they have lived in previously. We speak as if we are only talking about homeowners, but renters and roomers are included equally here.

To live in our homes and age in place there requires nothing of us; however, to be effective some little, or perhaps not so little, tweaks may be necessary or desired. This is aging in place professionals come in - to help anyone who wants to remain in their current home (and this is a very large percentage accounting for nearly everyone) to be able to do so.

Some people will not need to do anything to improve their current homes because they already have completed a project or they happen to have a home that already is fairly well suited for their aging needs. Others won't do anything because they don't know they can or don't think they have the money to afford any improvements.

Most everyone, however, can benefit from aging in place solutions that we can provide to them - from accessibility, lighting, flooring, appliances, fixtures, controls and switches, and general livability issues. The challenge is identifying those people who are willing to make the improvements (large or small, generous budget to quite modest) that will help them enjoy their homes.

Aging happens, and we have the ability to help people remain in their homes in the safest, most effective ways possible.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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.