Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"There Is A Tremendous Opportunity To Help People Age In Place More Safely"

There are many people who want to remain living in their homes as they age. Depending on their current age and the study cited, this number approaches nearly the entire population. It increases as people get older and realize that they really like being where they are and really don't have any interest in changing their address.

Just because people have no interest in moving from their current homes does not mean that those homes are well suited to provide for their occupants over time, however. Some are, but many are not.

It could be that the age of the home is not conducive to mobility or accessibility issues that people are likely to have as they get older. Those homes were built at a time when hallways and doorways were narrower. Windows. lighting, flooring, and electrical service were different. If they have not been upgraded or maintained over time they main be out-of-step with current building codes or comfort requirements.

Nevertheless, many people are going to remain in their homes and do nothing to improve those homes. Even though those homes have not kept pace with technology or their occupants' advancing years, the homes are desirable for other reasons. They just may not be as safe as they could be.

People want to remain in their homes because they like them. They are familiar with the floor plans and the immediate neighborhood. Even with declining sensory perception (for those so affected) they can find their way around their homes and the homes immediately near them. This level of comfort and security is a big factor in making the decision to remain living where they are.

While many cosmetic or safety improvements could be made in the home, including modernizing appliances, cabinetry, bath fixtures, lighting, door hardware, and similar features, the homes themselves are capable of being lived in for many more years. As such, some people who really could benefit from home modifications and improvements are going to ignore or forgo such changes and upgrades because they are unaware of them, don't think they can afford them, or have never been approached and consulted about making them. This is a huge opportunity for us.

Even when people don't make any changes to their existing homes to make life easier for themselves as they remain living in them and aging in place, they may be able to survive quite well. They could do better with our help, but they can make do. The point is that there are many people who are going to continue living in their homes without doing anything to make those homes better for themselves. There are going to many who recognize that they need improvements and reach out to us. it's figuring out ways to tap this otherwise unreachable market that is a real potential for us.

We can't force people to improve their homes who really don't want to make any changes to them, but there are many people who simply are unaware that their homes can be better or don't know which areas can be improved and to what extent. There is such an opportunity to reach such individuals with the message that improvements can be made and to show them ways that such changes can be financed. 

For those people that really would like to have some improvements made that are unaware of just what can be done or perhaps how simple or relatively inexpensive some of these changes can be, someone needs to figure out a way to reach them and make them aware of how their lives can be improved. This applies whether they have any mobility limitations or other aging issues or not. 

Of course, there are also going to be those people who are willing to do something to make their homes more accessible, easier to move around in, and safer. Often they will reach out to us. We can help them in many ways, and it will be easier to serve them because they are welcoming the types of changes that we can make.

Either way, there is no shortage of people for us to serve. There is the obvious market of people who contact us or respond eagerly to our calls to help them and the less obvious one of people that are not as willing or knowledgeable about improvements that can be made to their homes.

____________ 

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.