Aging sneaks up on us. It seems that just the other day we were a lot younger – in years, in physical ability, and in many other ways. But, that was then, and this is now. Funny how that works. We literally were younger back then, but for so many of us, the difference between then (whenever that was) and now is getting more noticeable with each passing period of time.
Some might argue that it would be great if we could all stay at a fit and active age of our choosing indefinitely. For some that would be in their thirties, some perhaps their forties, and others their fifties. Nevertheless. some people in their eighties are having the times of their lives right now and wouldn’t even consider going back in time at all. Conversely, some people a fraction of their age are struggling to find meaning in their lives. This is irrespective of any physical or sensory challenges that people are facing and how long they have been affected by those limitations.
Aging is nothing to be feared or regretted. It happens to all of us. We might not like some of the things associated with getting older, but then again, we might look forward to them. For instance, getting a senior discount is not all bad, or being shown a little more courtesy by younger folks. People might even expect us to move or think a little slower, and that’s OK because we can deal with that – and even surprise them when this isn’t the case.
So now that all of us are aging, how do we put this into a business perspective? We provide our aging in place assessments and solutions to the public and to organizations that can direct us to their clients. As we or members of our family experience some of the issues associated with aging, we can have first-hand knowledge of what to expect and what can be done to offset its impact on daily activities.
There is no certain age at which some physical issues begin to become noticeable. A little bit of arthritis in fingers, toes, the neck, or knees can make normal movements a little more challenging, and we can begin to appreciate how designs geared toward improving mobility can help in the home – ones such as the elimination of steps or easier to use cabinets and shelving.
Going up and down stairs to get into the home or going between floors multiple times a day might have been easy or inconsequential at an earlier time of life, but it may be more challenging as people age and have joint issues, vision limitations, or balance concerns that make climbing stairs a safety issue. There is the potential for falling or the possibility of severe discomfort in performing an activity that was never given that much thought previously.
Now, some type of assistance in going between levels of the home or getting into the home may need to be considered – or modifying the living space so that sleeping areas and other functional parts of the home are on one level for those who need it that way.
Lighting is another common feature that is addressed in any design – especially as it applies to working with older adults. Before LED bulbs became so common, adding more fixtures and higher wattage bulbs used to be recommended to increase lighting and improve safety in a home. Now, we can still add more fixtures, but we can increase the efficiency of lighting and reduce the heat output from them by adding lumens and adjusting the coloring of the light output to enhance mood, increase vision, reduce eyestrain, and make areas safer to navigate and conduct other activities (such as reading, meal preparation, grooming, or pursuing hobbies).
Flooring, furniture, cabinets, appliances, bath fixtures (including tubs and showers), doorways, door and cabinet hardware, and many other features in a home that possibly have not received much attention over the years for how they can add to a person’s comfort, safety, and enjoyment of their home are now items that we can address from this perspective.
Some treatments, solutions, or recommendations that we are going to offer our clients are going to be specific to their physical needs and requirements; however, many of them are going to be addressing normal aging issues that sooner or later we all experience – especially sensory abilities that generally are affected by age. As we get older, some of these concerns are becoming more apparent to us, and we can use this knowledge and experience in offering our services to our clients.