As you may recall, inertia is state or remaining either at rest or in motion until acted upon by outside forces to impact or change the direction or speed of that state of activity. In the case of suggesting and implementing aging in place changes in the homes of the people we serve, we are interested in overcoming the inertia of being at rest and resisting or ignoring potential changes that can happen for them.
There are many reasons for this inertia of inaction. Acceptance of their current situation or denial of it are two of the biggest reasons that people don’t act when there is every outward sign that they should.
When we visit their homes and conduct a visual inspection and assessment of their properties, and we talk with them about their needs and lifestyle, we discover that there are many improvements – some simple and some more complex and involved – that could and should be made to improve their overall quality of life.
The pushback we get is due to the fact that they have accepted their homes for what they are and what they provide and have adapted their lifestyle to just getting by in their homes as they are currently constituted. They have not considered changes that can be made, or they are not prepared to move forward with them without a lot of convincing because of the inertia that keeps them comfortable with the status quo.
While they may realize that their homes are not serving them perfectly or ideally for their physical needs or spatial requirements, they have accepted them as they are and have resigned themselves to living in their homes as they are. They are in various forms of acceptance and denial about the need or ability to create changes in what they have to facilitate greater accessibility, visitability, safety, comfort, or convenience.
Budget is another reason that keeps people from acting. They have limited financial means, have a fixed income, perceive that the changes that need to be made are more expensive or extensive that they really might be, have sticker shock from current prices of materials and labor versus what they were the last time they had any work done, or have an unrealistic impression of how expensive something might be to undertake based on what they see on TV home improvement, makeover, or do-it-yourself shows.
There are many funding sources and creative financing ways that can be explored to help people accomplish some basic improvements – maybe not everything that would be helpful or desirable for them but enough to create a little more safety and enjoyment for them.
We need to be aware of the factors that may cause people to want to maintain things as they are and be prepared to help them overcome their inertia and move them into action to agree for us to help them make some improvements to their dwellings that will assist their quality of life and ability to function effectively in their homes.