The late Stephen Covey, in his classic book about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, made his fourth point “begin with the end in mind.” While this has applications and value in so many areas of life, it is particularly relevant for creating effective aging in place solutions.
As we evaluate the homes of our clients and understand their needs and desires to keep them living in their present homes for as long as possible, we are faced with addressing current shortcomings of their homes as well as projecting what might be valuable for those homes to have in the future for safety, comfort, convenience, and accessibility. Thus, we should begin a renovation project – whether it is for normal aging issues or for more pressing mobility, sensory, or cognitive concerns – with the end objective in mind, not just short-term solutions or quick-fixes.
When we focus on the bigger picture – the end-game of the renovation project – we take in a wider perspective than just immediate needs and concerns. We begin to look at the total picture and not just what needs to be done to correct the most pressing current issues.
Some solutions like door handles or cabinet hardware might be great ideas to begin addressing the needs of someone who has concerns about being able to open doors and cabinets – and to make it easier for their visitors and guests to use when they are present – but that likely is not the entire story.
If the objective of a remodeling or aging in place renovation project for redoing a kitchen, bathroom, front entrance, hallway, or for all of those areas was to create more access, provide more safety, or make it more comfortable for the residents of that home to function in those spaces, then a comprehensive treatment of those areas that included flooring, lighting (including windows), appliances, and doors and doorways would be part of the end solution.
While any improvement might be welcome for those living in or visiting that home, that would not be in keeping with providing the total solution. Beginning a project with the end in mind – even if it has to be accomplished in stages or with more budget-minded components and features for financial concerns – means that all areas of a person’s ability to function well in that home would be evaluated, taken into consideration, and addressed.
Additionally, by explaining this approach to our potential clients, we indicate that we understand how various parts of the homework together and affect their overall well-being and success in living long-term in that home – whatever their current or future abilities might be because we will have designed a solution with that in mind.