“Seniors & Others Desiring To Age In Place Can Ease Into Home Modifications”

For those old enough to remember, or if you have heard about this along the way, grocery stores and membership clubs (via the mail because there was no internet at that time) used to sell book collections (Zane Gray and Hardy Boys, for instance, or biographies, other mysteries, or traveloges) or encyclopedias on an installment release – making one edition available each month, or every 3 weeks, 6 weeks, or whatever the promotion scheduled.

The point is that people had to wait for the entire collection to be released and shipped before they actually had it to use. Occasionally, a person could buy ahead but only for a few volumes. The shippers wanted to maximize cash flow, and people were content (because they had no other choice) to wait for the releases. If a person wanted to read what was contained in volume 22 but only the first few had been released, they would just have to wait and look forward to the day when that could happen.

While a form of this plan still remains (for dishes, glassware, music, and various household items) a person can wait until each item is released to get it, or they often can get the entire set at one time. The internet and infomercials have influenced us into being less patient and more in need of immediate gratification. We can now get a several volume record collection (on CD), sets of cookware or cooking utensils, reference volumes, and similar items in a single purchase. No need to wait anymore!

This social phenomenon has worked its way into our homes in the way we decorate and improve them. There was a time (and many people still do it this way) when people would paint just one room without redoing the entire house at the same time. They would get drapes or curtains for just one room. They would get new towels for the guest bath without necessarily doing the others – and maybe not the entire set of towels at once but the bath towels first and then the others in a series of purchases as their budget and personal style dictated.

As to staying in one’s forever or permanent home and aging in place – regardless of their current age, ability, or how long they have lived in that home – the installment-plan type of thinking may be advantageous. Speaking of installment plans, years ago – before credit cards became so prevalent – people would go shopping for clothes, for birthday presents, or holiday gifts and put them on layaway (putting down a small deposit and paying off the rest on a schedule). Many department stores used to offer this, but now it is nearly nonexistent.

Credit cards still offer this same installment purchasing plan, but in reverse order. We shop for something today, charge it, and pay for it over time with interest. Often the item we purchased on credit has already been consumed, used, broken, or discarded before it is completely paid for.

So, someone wants a video monitoring system like a Nest, Ring, or similar devices. They want to be able to see if anyone is outside their home without going to the door first, and they may want to have the ability to talk with that person from safely inside their home. Video monitoring is another feature that many of these devices offer that may or may not appeal to the person getting it just for visual and audio contact with the front door – an electronic audio-visual doorbell.

Here, this audio-visual device may be the only improvement they add to their home that we would label as aging in place beneficial or universal design. They may still have flooring that is difficult to use, inadequate lighting, dual handle kitchen faucets, round door knobs on interior doors (even the glass fluted ones),  narrow interior door openings and passageways, and other features that we would love to help them improve and change. But first things first.

If having a Nest, Ring, or similar device provides the peace-of-mind and security they are seeking, and even if the wi-fi connections they get are just for this and not for tablets, computers, or smartphones just yet, they still have begun to make their home more suitable for their longterm usage.

People may think that it’s important to make as many improvements to their home as they can, but remembering the book-of-the-month club and other such services, they have to begin someplace. Even if only one item (not necessarily the camera, but anything at all) was installed that would help with being able to age in place more successfully, it would be a great beginning. That would be better than nothing, but we also could build upon that over time.

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