Below is a snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place – Eliminating Pitfalls. This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.
Imagine this scenario: your once very active mother is making every excuse in the world not to leave the house in which you had grown up. She will not even allow you to take her to places you know she loved. Her reasons are totally out of character and implausible. What is going on?
A year before, she had slipped on ice taking trash out from a back deck. Falling on the steps, she had broken one of her kneecaps. Given her advanced age, it was slow to heal. In the process, favoring one leg had put undue stress on the opposite side hip, which had begun to severelytense pain from the fall, coupled with the weakness in her hip, has left her afraid and unsure of her ability to successfully climb down the front or back steps. Pain, and the fear of more pain, has made her a prisoner in her slightly elevated home.
Without saying anything, you drive to a nearby home improvement store and buy all the components you are going to need. Once back at her home, you install sturdy railings leading down from her front porch to the walk below, and easy to grip handrails down from the back deck to the back yard.
Suddenly, your mother is once again free. But the year she spent in captivity is burned into your mind. You had no clue, because you had never known that kind of failure. And she was too proud to admit she was afraid or to ask for help.
This is not remotely an isolated case. There are millions of homes in our country where aging parents and other occupants face steps needed to exit from their homes. These are steps they no longer have confidence or strength to negotiate. They also face life with a bewildering array of technology with which they have never felt comfortable. Bathrooms have become dangerous places. Their own second floors and basements are no longer even accessible to them. They must sometimes grope their way through a fog of confusion just to accomplish daily tasks that were once mundane and second nature. All the while they remain silent, because they don’t want to “be a burden” and ask for help.
Some problems they face cannot be helped. But many can, with the simple installation of equipment and hardware, or a few modest changes in routine. This writing is to familiarize others with problems faced by our aging population and possibly ourselves, along with suggestions on how to mitigate these issues in our residences, because someone needs to remove the invisible bars.
Learn More in Part 2.
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