Friday, August 25, 2017

"'Aging In Place' Is Part Of Our Current Culture"

Aging. It may not be the most exciting topic to think about or discuss. However, go a little deeper, and it's OK - especially considering the alternative. Therefore, aging is not only OK, it's pretty special. Getting older does have its benefits. Sometimes younger people defer to us. We don't have to feel apologetic for declining activities that clearly are left to the younger ones. Naps in the afternoon, slow walks, and other more passive activities now have a certain appeal.

That leads to a discussion of aging in place or continuing to remain in the homes that generally are comfortable for us and that we love and enjoy. Although the idea of aging in place goes back decades, the formal focus on creating ways for people to live successfully and effectively in their homes is a fairly recent development.

While the aging term in the aging in place phrase is unwelcome or awkward for some people to consider or discuss - preferring to soften it with some other expression like living in place - it seems to have been adopted into common usage.

There are so many mentions of it online, and in articles, books, forums, public presentations, radio programs, seminars, and classes. People are embracing the concept as well as the specific name used to describe the focus on allowing people to remain in their homes long-term, regardless of their present age, their physical condition, or their projected lifespan.

More and more of us are attaining the Certified Aging in Place Specialist ("CAPS") designation, and it is catching on so well that consumers and fellow professionals are asking us if we have the designation before deciding to engage us. Consumers are actively seeking CAPS professionals to help them.

Additionally, several professional organizations are promoting the CAPS designation among their members and in turn their clients and families - the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), AARP, American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

There also are several membership organizations and local and national service agencies devoted to aging in place and aging issues.

There is no reason to view the concept of aging or of aging in place as anything less than the positive strategy it is. Do not even consider the possibility that the word aging is a word that people don't like hearing. We all are aging. It's a fact of life. The idea that we can do something to help people deal with it effectively is great. Living each day means that we are aging. It's a fact of life - literally.

Aging is not limited to any particular geography or part of the world either. This concept has really caught on so all of us can use our specialty (remodeling, OT, design, consulting, counseling, assistive technology, durable medical equipment, and so many others) to help design, create, and implement effective solutions for people - whether their physical needs are minimal or great.

Aging in place generally is thought to focus on the senior population, but people are aging in place throughout their lives. Many find a home they want to remain living in long-term at a fairly early stage in their lives. That may be their permanent or lifetime home or they may find another later on. Still, helping people live successfully and effectively wherever they are and for however long is what we do as aging in place specialists. Ideally, we can keep people living independently for their entire lifetimes - as they age in place rather than in a home that is not theirs or a that of a family member.

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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.