Sometimes this isn't possible, but that is what we strive for, and this is what aging in place is all about. We want people to stay at home. Out of all the words in the dictionary, "home" is one of the most beautiful. It is a simple, four-letter word, yet it is powerful in what it represents and the images it suggests.
When people go away from their residence (whatever type it is) and visit friends or family, go for a weekend to the beach or the mountains, take a skiing vacation, visit another country, go sightseeing, take a day trip on a Saturday or Sunday, visit national parks or places of interest, take a business trip, or anything else that takes them away from home for several hours - even a day at the office - it is so great to return home.
People look forward to returning home. It's a base, a safety net, security. It is their place in all the world that they own or maintain (in the case of a rental) where they can shut out the rest of the world. Of course, we bring the world into our home with TV and the internet, but that is by choice.
Of all the words in our language - or any language - home is right up there at the top for the emotions and security it connotes. Along with "love," "home" is a beautiful, powerful four-letter word. There are others (work, help, save, and lend, for instance), but love and home - often used in the same context - top the list of what people revere and want.
Since "home" is such a powerful word for what it represents - a place for people to retreat to, enjoy, entertain friends and neighbors, raise a family, nurture relationships, celebrate holidays and special occasions, be their total self, wear whatever they like, relax, rest, pursue hobbies, and more - we need to make sure that we safeguard this for people. As aging in place specialists and professionals, we are charged with protecting people's homes and their activities within their homes - and in maintaining their dignity within their living spaces. We want to make sure that people can navigate their homes safely and be reasonably free from falls, bumping into objects, and other types of injuries that can be avoided.
We have so many tools at our disposal that can be used universally - depending on what people might already have in the living space - to help them see better, move about in their space, access controls and door hardware, bathe, cook, sleep, rest, receive visitors, and so many other day-to-day activities that are needed in a home.
Of course, budget, physical needs of the home, and any particular requirements of the occupants of the home will have a bearing on what we can provide in terms of renovations and safety improvements. Still, our overriding objective is to help them stay in the home they have to remain in and to help ensure that it serves their needs effectively to provide and functional living environment for everyone in their home.
"Home" is indeed a great word, and we get to help people make the most of living in theirs for the long-term.
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.