Not only are the clients that we are wanting to serve getting older and requiring more specific adjustments to their homes to enable them to maintain their independence, but we are also getting older ourselves. No surprise, we are all aging.
Part of aging or getting older is a matter of perception. We may not feel any older physically or ability-wise than the last time we thought about it, and we may not perceive that anything we are doing has lessened or declined. We might feel that we still have the same cognitive abilities, physical speed, or reaction time that we did a few years ago. This may indeed be true, but there could be some hardly-noticeable differences. We just need to be aware that changes can happen and compensate for them in advance.
While we may be able to solve word problem or riddle as quick or quicker than ever before and do a math problem (addition, multiplication, fractions, or percentages) in our head as quick or quicker than ever before – partly based on life experiences and practice – we may not be able to run as fast or react to a falling object to catch it before it crashes as quickly as a few years back.
These changing abilities apply to an extent to everyone – us, our family and friends, our strategic partners, and our clients. Everyone!
One of the hardest things for many people to admit is that they need help from someone else to do what they have been doing for themselves for years. This is why we do assessments and home audits in our clients’ homes. We want to observe what may not be a good mesh anymore for the way they navigate their home, use the bathroom, go to bed and rise, fix a snack, prepare a meal, sit and read or watch TV, take care of their cat or dog, and many other physical tasks involving accessibility, sensory skills, cognition, and safety.
One reason that we face potential resistance from people as they are aging, and as we are invited into their homes to observe changes we might recommend for possible improvements or modifications, is that they don’t perceive the decline in abilities the way we see it as an outsider. It is much easier for us to notice difficulties – even little ones that they might be experiencing while they might dismiss them or compensate for them in some way.
Sometimes people will be quite aware of changes in their abilities and invite us into their homes to meet with them to offer our assistance willingly. Other times, there is more of an adversarial position from procrastinators denying or pushing back against the idea that some modifications will make their life easier, more comfortable, and safer in their homes.
People with specific physical, sensory, or chronic conditions that they are receiving medical treatment for are more inclined to want our help (and may have called us through a recommendation or a referring professional) but still may only want the minimum amount of improvements they perceive as necessary and aren’t accounting for additional changes in their abilities in the coming weeks and months.
As for ourselves as aging in place professionals, we may have a wealth or talent and a broad range of abilities. We could like many skills on our website, social media profile, tri-fold, and business card. Nevertheless, there comes a time when we need to admit that we can’t do everything we used to – at the frenetic pace of the past – or that we can do an entire job by ourselves. We shouldn’t try to do everything in one day – or even start a second job that same day – when the scope demands that we be a little more diligent in how we approach the work. We may need to plan more rest periods during the day – but still get the work done as promised at the rate agreed to and on time. We may need to schedule in a couple of more hours to complete the job.
Most accidents happen when we are tired and are not paying close attention. We will always wish that we had the same amount of energy we had when we were 25, but likely we are not that age anymore. That’s life. Like the saying goes: Make lemonade out of those lemons.
This is why building a strategic CAPS delivery team makes so much sense. We don’t have to be a one-person show or know all there is to know about everything. Involving OTs, engineers, architects, designers, contractors, consultants, and various other specialists and professionals to complement the skills we have will make us that much more valuable to the marketplace and our clients – and ensure the job gets done right with a lot less stress on us.