Aging in place is here to stay
Aging in place is not a fad, and it is not a trend. It is a reality. Aging in place is continuing to occupy the same living space over time, even if it is not optimized for the individuals living there. Even if someone has not accepted the term or concept of aging in place, they are doing it anyway. It does not require our acceptance of the term, only the reality of continuing to occupy our living space long-term.
Even for people who do not identify with the aging in place concept or term but are continuing to live in their same living space indefinitely (or have been doing so for years), they are aging in place. It does not require an acknowledgment in order to have it apply and to have us offer our advice and design help.
Some people will be more able to use their current home, regardless of when it was built, its physical size, or its general condition, better than others, but everyone is aging in place where they are in their home of choice.
Learning how we can help
One of the reasons that we became Certified Aging In Place Specialists is that we enjoy seeing people live in a dwelling space that is safe, comfortable, and functional for them. Some people already have such a space because their needs and their home environment mesh currently, but many people could benefit from some improvements to their living space – from a few tweaks to a major update.
So how do we determine what people need? We might begin by a personal examination of the space – a walkthrough to get a feel for what exists, what seems to be well-done, and what seems to be ready for replacement, repair, or updating. We might use a checklist to organize the areas of the home we want to review, to remind us of the specific areas we want to review and note, or to collect our comments.
However, these approaches, while generally accepted as the way to approach an aging in place home improvement, omit the client’s input and how they view their living space. Before we conduct a review of the living space, an interview is recommended. This can be done over the phone, virtually through various video platforms, or in-person in their home.
Asking questions is the most powerful and effective way of learning what the client needs and how they would like for us to help them. We have so many ways that we can offer assistance, but we must choose the solutions that the client wants and that they will accept in order to help them successfully.
Relying on client input
Our clients (or someone very close to them such as a caregiver or family member) are in the best position to know what isn’t working in their home, what would help them do better in the home environment, and what is working fine the way it is.
Having our clients participate in our assessment of their living space does several beneficial things: it involves them in the process and gives them ownership of what is going on, it gives us additional insight into what might be needed other than relying just on our observations, and it helps ensure that they are going to accept what we do for them.
We need to remember that we are working with people in their living space to help them. It must be a result that they will accept.