“Dealing With A General Slowdown As We Age In Place”


As we go through life we experience many caution and warning signs to be careful, to be more alert or aware, or to slow down to avoid potential injury – part of it is just normal aging

We live in a fast-paced world. So many things are based on speed. We hurry to appointments. We eat quickly as if the food will be taken away if we don’t devour it immediately. We listen to audio books. We text and email instead of calling many times because it is quicker. We are told by parents and teachers not to waste time or dawdle. In short, we are conditioned to respond to tasks quickly and without delay.

When we rush across town to get to an appointment, we get upset when there is a delay. We honk our horns, frantically change lanes, and get frustrated. Our blood pressure goes up. We become angry. When someone is broken down in our lane, if there is a lane closure due to construction, or whenever there is an accident blocking the lane we are using, we get upset that traffic isn’t flowing freely and that we have to change lanes.

We get to appointments either right on time or maybe a couple of minutes late because we can’t stand wasting time sitting around. We could leave earlier for our destination and allow ourselves more of a margin, but we value our time and try to squeeze that much more out of our day before leaving for various appointments. Often the person we are seeing is running late anyway (for a variety of reasons), causing to still wait.

We rent, download, or record TV shows so we can watch the action but not the commercial interruptions – not good news for the advertisers but true. When we access sites online often there are ads, but we can skip them after a few seconds by clicking the button to do so. Anyone remember using Cliff’s Notes or something similar to get through Shakespeare, assigned books to read, or various other subjects?

Most of us have been so used to keeping a schedule, rushing to appointments, getting to the office on time, making the train or airplane before it departs so we aren’t faced with delaying or ruining our business day or pending meetings, and attending to many other time-sensitive actions. We have conference calls and webinars that are scheduled and that begin whether we are present or not. Also, we have many deadlines to meet as a part of our business day!

As our businesses mature, we may find that we can take some of the pressure off ourselves for meeting so many deadlines by slowing the pace of our business.

Some of us volunteer or belong to clubs that have regular business, luncheon, or committee meetings. We schedule our day around them and rush to get the work done ahead of them, rush to get the meeting, sometimes resent the amount of time out of our day that these meetings require, and then rush back to resume where we were – attempting to make up for the time lost to the meeting.

When we travel for business, we rush to the airport because we generally have packed our schedule so full of last-minute activities to complete that we find ourselves hurrying to get there to just make it in time. There comes a time, however, we realize that not everything can get done and we are fine with doing what we can and letting other things wait until we get to them in a more reasonable manner. Call it maturity or call it reality. It makes a difference in how we approach life. We can find ourselves slowing our response rate just a little to be more realistic with our abilities and the demands on our time.

This maturity or sense of reasonableness that we finally attain is consistent with a general slowdown we experience as we age. At forty, we are still active and energetic but likely less so that when we were in our twenties. At sixty, we feel it a little more. Past that, we are acutely aware of how activities that once could be done with ease are more difficult or can no longer be done safely or at all.

Our vision and hearing decline somewhat and how quickly we respond to images and messages – more in some individuals than others. Our appetite and need for (or ability to) sleep can change also. Our balance and our reflexes can lessen also.

Knowing that various sensory declines and mobility challenges occur with aging means that we need to consciously address them and incorporate solutions into our aging in place designs for our clients. The changes aren’t uniform. Like so many other physical traits, they are individual and as such must be addressed on a situational basis – to meet the needs of the clients and offer them a safe, accessible, confortable, friendly, and convenient living space.

Share with your friend and colleagues!