Monday, July 3, 2017

"What If We Forget To Plan For Aging In Place - Or Never Get Around To It?"

There are many articles, posts, and presentations about the wisdom of planning ahead to make sure that one's residence is ready for them when they get older and want to remain living there. Hallways, doorways, lighting, flooring, entry into the home, heights of shelves, door and cabinet hardware, appliances, bath fixtures, glare reduction, fall prevention, and more all are important to take into account and resolve earlier in one's tenure in that home rather than later.

But what happens if we missed that step? How can one age in place if they are unprepared? Quite simply, actually.

While preparing to age well in place is desirable, it is not a prerequisite to continuing to live in one's present home. It is not mandatory that it be done at all. Many people continue right where they have been living and go on just like that for years, without doing anything at all special to accommodate their changing needs - or very little as the need arises. We may see more adaptive changes in a home that people create or invent to compensate for vision or hearing loss, mobility concerns, range of motion issues, or other limiting conditions. Otherwise, many people are prepared to age in place without any of the outward signs of getting ready for it.

There are many people who have lived in their present home for years and intend to go right on doing so indefinitely into the future. They have not made any safety or accessibility renovations although those would be quite helpful for them. They may not know that they can, or those changes are not that important for them. Maybe they have very limited financial means and just don't consider such changes to be a priority in their lives.

There are procrastinators who just keep putting of helpful changes, and there are those who just are not that keenly aware of changes that could be done in their homes to make life easier or safer for them. Maybe they don't watch home improvement shows on TV. They may not have access to a computer. They may just be living a very simple lifestyle that does not suggest that any improvements to their home are necessary.

Regardless of why some people are not aware of helpful changes they could make in their homes, or choose not to act, they will continue to age in place in their current homes without doing anything themselves or hiring others to assist them in making those homes more accommodating for them as they get older. They may even escape our attention as well.

As we out in the community serving those who request our assistance to update and upgrade their homes to make them more accessible or comfortable for them, as well as generally safer and more secure, there is going to be such a workload that we may not be aware of those who are choosing not to act or unaware that they can. They literally will have forgotten to do anything special to prepare for aging in place or just have put it off for so long that they have gotten by relatively well without making the changes that would have helped them to do even better.

To the extent possible, as we are marketing our services in the area we serve, we need to be aware of people who seem to have escaped anyone's attention. It may be a conscious decision on their part not to have any work done, or they may just have existed below the radar or detection. We simply may not have crossed paths with them. This is a challenge. They can and will age in place without anyone's help, but just think - even with a very limited budget, if that is the case - how much better they might live with a little help from us.

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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.