Well you hear the term enough, whether on TV commercials, radio or in the back of every magazine, aging in place or similar themes are present in many forms.
So maybe you are starting to ask what is this thing called aging in place, does it apply to me and should I be thinking about it?
We are all aging, you are probably reading this article in your home, so am I not already aging in place?
Maybe this definition from the National Association of Home Builders will shed some light on the question.
Aging in place means the ability to remain in ones home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout ones maturing years, and the ability to enjoy the familiar daily rituals and the special events that enrich all our lives. It means the reassurance of being able to call a house a home for a lifetime.
The answer is yes we are already aging in place and if asked want to continue to do so, so lets pose a different question - How can we safely age in place?
Can you relate to one of the groups below?
Aging in place without urgent needs: those who want to stay in their current home, are not experiencing immediate health/mobility issues.
Aging in place with aging related needs: living independently, but daily tasks are becoming harder such as climbing stairs, getting the mail or bathing.
Aging in place with progressive condition-based needs:those with chronic or progressive conditions that will require special modifications and care to remain in their current home.
Aging in place with traumatic change needs: individuals who experience an abrupt or immediate change such as a fall or a stroke that demands immediate adjustments in the living environment.
Most reading this article can probably relate directly or indirectly to one of the groups above. Obviously you cannot foresee all circumstances going forward, but it surprising how few in group one start thinking about safety until a traumatic event occurs and how many in group two struggle daily using a loose towel bar, or shower handle to navigate in and out of the tub, it only takes a second to move to group 4.
A little prevention can go a long way, minor home modifications can reduce the chance of falling, make daily tasks easier and safer, assist with care and rehabilitation and allow your home to adapt with you as your needs change. This will not only improve your overall quality of life, but that of those around you. Whether it is a safety bar, shower chair, anti-slip strips or handrail on the front steps, all no matter how minor add immeasurably to your day to day safety no matter what group you relate to.
You can probably identify quite a few areas you would like to improve or make safer in your home right now, some of which you can address yourself and others that will require help. Of course the best thing is to get a professional to give your home a safety inspection, a reputable company will do this for free and be trained and expert in aging in place and home modification.
One last note as I mentioned at the start of the article you see aging in place products advertised everyday from a larger number of companies. If you are considering particularly a more major home/bathroom modification, make sure that you are given a written estimate for the work to be completed, it is ok to ask for references, get more than one quote and never feel pressured to sign on the spot, this way you will get the solution you want from the company that is right for you.
I hope you found this article useful, of course we cannot prevent everything that may occur but remember prevention is no accident!
Bryan Connington is the owner of Safety for Seniors a local home modification specialist, a National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and holds an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California
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