Remembering back to grade school art class, perspective was one of the early techniques we learned – the way we looked at an entire line of telephone poles on the highway and noticed that even though each was roughly the same size, it sure didn’t look that way. The ones closest to us were the largest, and the reduced in size as the line extended.
Then, an even more peculiar thing happened. The object that was second in line and a little smaller looking than the first one became the same size as the first one had been when we got a little closer to it. Then, the next one did the same, and so forth – perspective! Our view of a situation changes as our location to it changes.
We see this principle illustrated constantly as we look around us. Objects closer to us appear larger, and those farther away – even though they are the same size or possibly even larger – look smaller by comparison.
The same thing happens with a sensation of time. When we are children, it seems like important events that we are looking forward to happening are so far off and take “forever” to get any closer and actually happen – birthdays (in general or a milestone one), Christmas, summer vacation, a visit to or from grandparents, a sleepover with a friend, Halloween, or a trip to the amusement park or other special event.
It’s not just the physical size of things or the passage of time that appears to change as we get nearer or farther from them, relationships, perceptions, understandings, and even knowledge change based on where we are in relation to them or how recent or long ago something was formed or established.
This has a direct bearing on the way people age in place and what we, as aging in place specialists, are able to do with them or for them to create situations that work even better for them. Some people, because of their perspective, don’t even realize that they are aging in place. They are so close to their situation and so focused on getting from one day to the next that they haven’t even thought about the future that much or the fact that they are aging in place in their current home. They likely have been in that home for several years already, and there is little reason to expect that this will change any time soon.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who have intentionally acquired a home that they view as the long-term solution for their needs or they have fallen in love with what they bought and now feel that it is their forever home. They may still desire some renovations or improvements, but the basic home, its location, and what it offers them is what they like. They are committed to remaining in that home forever.
In between those who have sort of accidentally selected their long-term home because they haven’t thought of doing anything different and those who have definitely chosen their forever home are all those who are in various stages of making the determination of whether their home works for them, if it can be improved to help them feel more comfortable and at ease in it as the years pass, and learning what changes they might need to consider to address their aging needs over time as well the changing physical condition of their home. Again, we are talking about perspective.
This is where we have a connection with our clients. In addition to their perspective of what their home means to them, why they chose it initially, what other opportunities they think might exist in their marketplace, and how (or if they have even considered) their physical needs might change over the coming years, we come alongside them with our own perspective of how well we think their current home is suited for them in the near-term and longer.
We are outsiders to their space and their lifestyle. We can be objective. Our perspective is not affected by how well we love the space or how much we might want to continue living it except that we want this for our clients. We bring our knowledge of the marketplace, what we have done for other clients, solutions that seem appropriate for their needs, and our team of strategic partners to their home to create a budget, scope of work, and plan to provide the treatments for them that will serve them well in the coming years.
Obviously, our clients are quite close to the situation, and we (along with our team) bring the outside viewpoint. Together we can create a plan to help our clients age in place safely and comfortably.