As aging in place professionals, we have many opportunities to affect the lives of the people we serve. We are able to evaluate their homes, make recommendations about suitable improvements for them, and help to see them executed – regardless of whether we are contractors, designers, suppliers, or consultants. One of the key objectives we have is giving our clients the chance to have them get along well with their homes as they age. No one needs to have their home fighting with them or providing unnecessary challenges to mobility, safety, or general daily activities. This applies to us as well as our clients.
Often people move into their forever home – whether they actually realize that it is their long-term home or not at the time they begin living there – without any significant health issues or limiting conditions. They are walking, running, climbing, reaching, holding, grasping, and performing other activities essentially the same as they always have. They might be a little slower, but both inwardly and outwardly, they seem to be free of any mobility issues or concerns.
Others may have had a mobility or sensory concern that they had been experiencing at the time they occupied their long-term home, and that condition was taken into account in selecting that home. Over time, it may have become more pronounced.
The point is that regardless of our physical condition when we selected and moved into our forever home – the one that we would continue to occupy as we grew older and aged in place – and whether we had noticeable limitations or not, we picked that home for what we thought was a comfortable lifestyle. Over the years, our expectations were either met (or exceeded), or they came up short.
What all of us are looking for primarily, in addition to finding a home that provided the general layout that we were looking for in terms of size, space, number of rooms, and relationship of those rooms to each other, was one that we felt allowed for our comfort, safety, and maneuverability within the space – even if we never verbalized it or formally expressed it.
We wanted a home that would allow us to be successful in our later years – one that wouldn’t get in our way or interfere with the process of aging, regardless of any physical ailments or impairments that we might have.
We wanted our homes to be nice to us – to treat us well.
There are many places in life – the workplace, the market, public events, the highways, the playground, and elsewhere – where our safety or peace-of-mind is directly challenged or put in jeopardy. Therefore, we need our home environment to provide a type of sanctuary or retreat for us that is relatively safe and free of the stress that can shelter us from the events of the world when we remain in or return to our homes.
By saying that we want our homes to give us a reasonable chance for success and a comfortable existence, we are saying that our homes should not challenge us. The flooring, lighting, windows, doors, cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, and other areas of our homes that we use on a regular basis should be effective and efficient for us. They should work for us without us even needing to think about any special considerations that might exist.
When our homes don’t measure up to what we need – because we didn’t do as well anticipating our future needs as we thought or they have changed significantly since we occupied the home – we need an aging in place specialist to evaluate how our homes can be improved and to recommend changes for us. Depending on what they are, the extent of them, and the budget required to undertake them, we can consent to having the work done and stay ahead of the curve.
Not everyone will have the financial ability, or the interest, to improve or modify their homes to make them into the kind of safe retreats they really need to be. That is our challenge in the marketplace because we all need to get along well with and within our homes.