It's true that we can be unprepared at where we will find ourselves later on in life, but that can be said of various other life stages as well. There are many times in life when we feel unprepared for where we are or where we think life is leading us - starting college, leaving home, taking that first job, buying a house and getting a mortgage, moving to a distant city, or starting a family, for instance.
Still. we make a way for ourselves - unless we just go along for the ride. It's still our choice on how to cope with or make the best of where we are at the time.
So, as people near or pass traditional retirement age, they may wonder what they need to do to get ready to age in place successfully. In fact, is there anything special or preparatory that needs to be done ahead of time that makes transitioning into life in a forever home easier?
The truth is that aging in place will happen whether one is prepared for it or not. The key is to make it as easy on ourselves as possible and to actually take a few steps along the way to help ensure that our homes are safe, convenient, comfortable, accessible, and enjoyable. At some point we selected that home - few people have been forced to live long-term in a home that they did not select, although they may remain living there without a clear reason why.
Looking at the big picture, people have been getting ready to age in place their entire lives because they have been doing this incrementally wherever they have lived over the years. They stayed a few years in this home, and a few years there. Each time, they made the most of where they were at the time, and if life became too uncomfortable for them in that home they generally moved on to something else more to their liking.
People essentially are experts at aging in place because they have been doing it a little at a time over the years. Maybe they moved because the home at the time proved to be unsafe, was too small for a growing family, too large to maintain well or efficiently, or not convenient to where they were working at the time. While they were in that particular home, however, they did what they could to make it work well for themselves and their families.
We could make the argument that people have been getting ready to age in place throughout most of their lives because they have been doing it on a smaller scale. The homes they were in at various times in their lives have been replaced by others. Now, they may find themselves in the home in which they want to remain or one that really doesn't suggest they need to move from it.
The getting ready is largely over. Now it's time for the doing - for making aging in place in the lifetime or forever home as comfortable, safe, and enjoyable as possible - regardless of any limiting conditions someone may have.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, 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.