“Aging In Place Can Be Very Gradual & May Sneak Up On Us”

As we get older, we may reflect on some of the challenges our homes present to us that wasn’t the case not too long ago – lighting, flooring, steps, and other safety and convenience issues.

Our homes are aging in place as much as we are

As the term aging in place suggests we are continuing to live in our homes long-term, and many of us may not be doing anything special to make sure that our homes are current with our physical conditions and needs. Our homes are very familiar to us we come and go and are in them – especially during extended periods that might come from retirement or the recent COVID-19 stay-at-home scenarios.

We may observe some minor maintenance issues that we overlook or accept that don’t seem to pose a serious issue to us, but more major issues such as the furnace breaking or a cracked window, or an appliance that needs repaired or replaced are more obvious and command our response. However, there are several minor issues that affect our safety, comfort, and convenience that may go unnoticed or untouched

Take our cars, for instance. If we go to start it and the battery is dead, that’s obvious and we need to get it fixed. However, if it’s a matter of the seat covers or the upholstery wearing, or a persistent gauge sticking or lighting up inappropriately but not indicating anything that requires our attention, we ignore it. A cracked mirror that still functions the way it’s intended, save the crack, we accept and ignore

We accept the little things

In our homes, it’s much the same. Many things have been going on over the years, and we adapt to them. As our vision changes or as our balance might change, we accommodate and adapt. We use our homes in ways that appeal to us the way we are now.

If we were to take a quiz about our physical abilities and how they may have changed over the last 10, 20, or more years, we may be inclined to be overly optimistic and not notice that things have changed appreciably.

Of course, not everyone changes in the same way. That said, aging and the ability to use our homes have a way of sneaking up on us and changing without our notice.

Those little things may turn into larger issues

What seemed fine yesterday may be less so today. What we could reach in previous days, the amount of strength that we may have had, the amount of reach, or the ability to read in lower light conditions, for some reason has changed. Things aren’t the same, and yet our homes many times are.

This brings us to a couple of situations that many people are facing. One is lighting as it has become more difficult to see well in our homes, We have supplemented it with new lights or added high lumens to the lights that we have. The second is flooring. It has tended to trip us, or we slipped on area rugs – we have removed them or secured them more tightly to the floor.

Other issues are those round doorknobs that need to be changed for lever handles, getting in and out of the shower or the tub shower,  going up and down 3 or 4 entry steps or up or stairs to the second floor or the basement. It’s not that those features change but our ability to use them the way we had definitely has. We think back and remember that yesterday it wasn’t this hard – it was all of a sudden.

Our physical changes are gradual

In our own homes and in those of our clients, we need to recognize that our needs change ever so slightly over time without a traumatic event or progressive illness that might cause a more obvious change and response. Our needs change little-by-little – our vision declines, our hearing declines, our balance, and our reach are different today than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Side-by-side, there’s a noticeable difference when we compare them.

We need to adapt our homes to meet our current needs, with the understanding that the requirements may not be so obvious or so easily identified. Many of us will not accept that we are getting older or that our needs have changed. Also, they may continue to change.

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