Lesson 1: A Fresh Look at the Challenges of Aging

AUDIO: A Fresh Look at the Challenges of Aging

Houses are almost always built for completely able-bodied people, and that’s why so few homes allow aging in place. So in a sense, our job in this course is to re-engineer your home with the kind of features that could have been put in place during construction but weren't. That’s much less troublesome than you might think if the details are assessed one at a time, and a logical plan created. Let me explain more about what I mean in the next video.

VIDEO:Meeting the Aging at Home Challenge

So your first job is to figure out how far you want to go with aging at home enhancements. Your choices set the tone for the whole project, so take your time and remember the most important fact of all. We’re not aiming to meet just your current needs, but future needs, too. That’s key.

Another thing to consider is exactly how these changes and upgrades will be completed in your home. If you’re handy, you can certainly tackle some or even all the work yourself. My guess, however, is that few people taking this course will complete all the major work themselves, but will end up hiring a contractor for at least the big stuff. Smaller items, such as hardware installation or simple modifications could be done as a DIY project or not. Regardless, the technical information in this course is available to both you and any contractor you might have. It covers the best products to buy and the best way to make the renovations you need. You can either use this information yourself, with your own hands, or you can educate yourself about things then use that knowledge to assess what’s being proposed by a contractor. Either way, knowledge is key, especially considering that few contractors have much experience renovating a home for extended seniors living.

Choosing a contractor is key to the success of any renovation project, and this one is no exception. Later in the course I’ll offer time-tested methods for finding and keeping a good contractor. This rarely happens without some effort and diligence on your part.

Meeting the Three Challenges of Aging

AUDIO: Meeting the Three Challenges of Aging

Aging involves changes in body and mind that require physical changes in your home to match. Generally speaking, these include:

  1. Reduced strength
  2. Reduced mobility
  3. Reduced cognitive function

Addressing these inevitable changes is what’s behind each and every one of the aging well at home enhancements. And if you look at the situation in the wider world, there is a tremendous need. By the year 2030, 1 in 5 people in developed countries around the world will be over 65. And of the millions of housing units in use, only about 10% have even the most basic features for extended seniors living. More than a quarter of all seniors living in their own home live alone.

A Word About Your Attitude

I’ve been around long enough to have noticed that people rarely stay the same as they age. They either get better personality-wise or they get worse. It seems to come down to the habits created and nurtured over a lifetime. Why mention this in the context of a course about aging well at home? Because your attitude and heart can have a profound effect on the quality of your senior years. The following true story is as common as it is instructive.

I know an elderly woman who desperately wanted to stay in her home as long as possible, then move in with one of her grown and middle-aged children when that level of care was required. The trouble was, none of the kids could bring themselves to take on a woman (even their mother) who complained constantly, often criticized others, was never interested in considering solutions to the problems she continually complained about, and expected the world to revolve around her in all things. “Your cousins took your aunt into their home to care for her. Why won’t you do the same for me?” was the question raised over and over. No one was brave enough to tell this woman that she makes life miserable for those around her. 

Ideally, you can make the case that grown children should always take care of their parents when that’s needed, regardless of what that experience will be like. But in practice, people are typically that selfless. The bottom line is simple: If you’re the kind of senior that people want to be around, then you’re much more likely to have pleasant retirement years surrounded by friends and family who are happy to help you in a house made for the job. But if you’ve cultivated a lifetime of being difficult, selfish and hard (or impossible) to please, then you’re probably about to reap what you’ve sown all these years. The only people who will be willing to take care of you need to be paid money to make it happen. All of us are free to make whatever life choices we want, but we’re never free to choose the consequences. Even if you’ll be hiring people to take care of you in your home, it’s still vital that you be a kind, considerate, long-suffering and pleasant person as much as possible. 

Lesson#2 coming up may be the most important of all three courses because it’s where most people lose the challenge of creating a senior-friendly home, even before they get started.

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