Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"A Nod To Independent Living On Independence Day"

It's Independence Day in America - a day when we celebrate our many freedoms and liberties that have endured for nearly two-and-half centuries. How understandable and appropriate it is that we also recognize the importance of people being able to remain living independently in their own homes as they age.

While celebrating our nation independence is the reason for the special day on the calendar, recognizing that people want to remain independent is important also. It is a fitting extension for this special day.

People have the power - on their own or with the aid of their family, social workers, agencies, caregivers, or us as aging in place professionals - to make their final years (how ever long that might be, even decades) enjoyable and pleasant because they were able to live them in familiar surroundings. They did not need to move into a care center or retirement community. That alternative exists for people who choose to use it, but most people can remain living at home, and nearly everyone expresses this desire when asked.

Remaining independent and able to care for oneself or have the care provided is an important objective of people as they age, and we can help them to achieve this. Some people are going to be more active and much more able to make important decisions for themselves than others, but family and caregivers can assist those who need it - all the while remaining in their homes.

This independency is more than just a desire on the part of so many seniors and so-to-be seniors. It is good for mental and emotional health of those who remain living at home, and it is far less costly than moving into a center - even when rather extension home modifications are done. Home improvements that allow people to function more easily and successfully in their homes (with specific progressive conditions that need to be accommodated or just general aging issues) may have a one-time price tag on them that sounds somewhat high (just as a number, not for what they get for that price), but this pales when compared to a number a large or larger than this that is due each year to live away from home in a center or facility.

All their adult lives, people have had the option to remain to choose where they want to live and with whom. It makes sense that they would want to continue this into their final years of life, regardless of how long that might be. It's remaining independent and living in their own home or rental apartment as they grow older that people are desiring to do, and we have a large responsibility to help them do just that. 

It no longer is expected that at an advanced age that people will need to move to a nursing home or retirement center. Some may choose to do this, but more people than ever are choosing to remain at home. They may move in with an adult child of theirs or with a sibling for companionship and emotional support, but continuing to live on their own is being realized by more and more people. Actually, we are expecting a surge in this number over the next few decades. 

People like the idea of having a place they can call home that they have lived in and maintained for years rather than someplace they have moved into for care and support. As aging in place professionals, we recognize that people want to remain living independently and are dedicated to helping them keep their homes safe and accessible to help them achieve this objective.

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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.