All of us are getting older and therefore are aging in place, whether we accept it or not or even if we like it. It doesn’t matter whether we feel like we are getting older, the calendar says differently. Thus, people have multiple ways of approaching getting older, from accepting it, rejecting it, fighting it, adapting to it, or ignoring it.
Nothing says people have to accept the notion of getting older, but this does not mean that it isn’t happening. They are possibly remembering the adage that we are only as old as we feel so they are not ready to accept that they are getting older because they still have a much younger outlook on life. This can be healthy, but looking out physical changes that naturally occur over time is smart also.
Most people view themselves and their abilities from a standpoint of 10-15 years younger than they actually are. A 50-year old often sees the world, their abilities, and their interests from the viewpoint of someone in their mid-thirties. The only issue with this is attempting to do physical activities (softball, running a race, biking, yardwork, or home improvements) with the same fervor and intensity that they were accustomed to at that earlier time where their mental picture of themselves is. While they may be able to do some of the activity – likely not at the same speed or with the same reflexes they once had – their recovery time may be longer. Sore muscles may not be noticeable for a day or two after the activity, and they may persist another couple of days after that. They may not quite as agile as before either.
There is nothing wrong with staying young from a physical or mental aspect, but we just may not be able to do as much, or perform it in the same way as we did previously. On the other hand, we may have learned a few tricks and shortcuts to adapt to our lessening abilities.
This brings us to four (and there could be more) major types of aging in place individuals without urgent needs – those with perhaps some physical or chronic limitations but nothing that obviously restricts their mobility and which are not apparent to anyone who doesn’t know them.
First are the plodders – the ones going through life as if nothing is bothering or concerning them – even though it might be. They might be complainers, but if they are, they have resigned themselves to toughing it out and making it through. They are plodders who push on and persevere. Making significant changes inside their homes (to enable their homes to be more accessible for them or more comfortable and enjoyable) or addressing safety issues likely is not at the top of their action list.
Next, are the procrastinators – the ones who are willing to put off doing anything until tomorrow or some less-than-definite future date. They are identifying any specific weaknesses in their homes or their ability to navigate them – or if they do, they are willing to put off doing anything about it for the near term. They may have the feeling that there’s always time later, or they may just not perceive any need at present. They could feel that they’ll get around to assessing their needs and then possibly doing something about it at a later time.
Pretenders are those who are pretending that they aren’t aging. – or they are ignoring or not coming to terms with the fact that we all age to some degree. Different from procrastinators who are putting off or deferring action, pretenders are acting as if nothing is happening – that there has been no change in their ability in the past several years. They see no need to modify their homes – except for changes they might make just for general comfort or appearance. Until there is some change in their health, they are going through life in denial of the normal aging process that affects everyone in one way or another.
Planners, are the ones we enjoy meeting and working with because they acknowledge that changes now or will soon need to be made to their homes to allow them to continue using them comfortably and safely. They research products and solutions, they educate themselves on potential solutions, and they are open to considering the possibilities available to improve their homes and their lifestyles as they continue getting older. They know that their abilities are likely to decline to a certain extent over time, and they are willing to engage us as aging in place specialist to discuss how their homes can be improved.