Aging in Place: Part 4 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 4th snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Don’t Expect Gratitude. Sometimes we just do what we have to do, regardless of the resistance faced. But don’t expect aging loved ones to be grateful when we suggest or implement changes in their lives.

    • No one likes to change, not even us. We have set routines, set ways to do things, habits we cannot break if we tried, and even ways we’ve developed to do things based on many, many years of experience learning to get it right. Regardless of whether another way seems like a better choice to you, if we haven’t decided on the necessity of change ourselves, nothing will be done.
    • No one likes to admit they can improve or be improved, not even us. If we felt like there was a better way to accomplish something, we would already be doing it that way. What we generally don’t care for, is someone younger than we are, telling us how much better they can make our lives. Especially when they are our children. We don’t really intend that anyone should decide for us which of our possessions we will need to eliminate in order to declutter. What we own, we own for a reason. We’d rather take chances with falling than give that priceless item away. Store it in another place for a while? That’s ridiculous. Why pay for storage when we can just keep storing it here?
    • No one likes role reversals, not even us. When we have been in charge our whole adult lives, we don’t expect to have anyone dictate anything to us. We are the decision makers and problem solvers in our relationships. We have years of experience and hard-earned wisdom on our side. If we want your advice, we will ask for it.
    • No one likes admitting they need help, not even us. We have spent lifetimes helping others who need it. We have little interest in feeling helpless, tired, weak or damaged. Because in our minds, we are still strong, twenty-year-old problem solvers. To admit otherwise will be to acknowledge the coming end of our time. Do we need help? No, but thank you anyway.


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Aging in Place: Part 3 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 3rd snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1 | Part 2


We have a long history of aging, pretty much since the beginning of time. It is no longer difficult to predict what will happen in our lives and bodies as we add to our years.

Balance will become a significant issue. This problem can arise from a loss of physical strength, effects of different medications, cognitive and visual impairments. Without thinking through a strategy to prevent or at least minimize falls, an issue with balance can become a significant health hazard. It’s a really good idea to periodically determine if loved ones (or you) can safely do these:

    • Climb up and down stairs with confidence
    • Stand and sit down again on chairs, beds, toilets, etc.
    • Get into, bathe and safely exit bathtubs and showers
    • Drive and return from destinations, from a standpoint of both physical and cognitive capability
    • Bend down and pick up items from the floor or lower shelves
    • Easily carry items like grocery bags and laundry baskets
    • Successfully use public transportation
    • Keep the home and property clean
    • Properly use all appliances
    • Manage personal health

A consequence of deciding to stay at home, whether alone or not, is the strong possibility of home accidents. Depending on the severity of the accident and whether injuries occur, if someone falls, they may not be able to get back on their feet. Cognitive issues like dementia can lead them away, but not necessarily back home. Extended periods of solitude, especially around holidays and in periods of inclement weather, can foster feelings of depression. In the presence of confusion and absence of assistance, medication use can turn dangerous when ignored, taken in excess or inadvertently combined with other medicine. Limited mobility leads to other issues like avoiding grocery shopping or failure to make scheduled health appointments. There are also various health conditions like strokes or Parkinson’s disease where the victims can simply no longer function alone.

Even if your loved one will allow you to make changes, it’s a very good idea to ease into them gradually. Prioritize the changes you (and they) feel will be beneficial and set a time frame to implement them. Discuss options and let the resident choose which ones will best meet their needs. Then accomplish agreed upon tasks in portions. Give those you love a chance to adapt to a few changes, before the next set is implemented. If all that sounds like it will be easy, it won’t.

Learn More in Part 4.


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Aging in Place: Part 2 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 2nd snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1


Every design or building issue dealing with the disabled or handicapped cannot be dealt with here. Massive laws have been passed for the purpose of guiding design decisions for buildings intended for use by the disabled. Many of these focus on commercial buildings financed with taxpayer funds, institutional projects where users regularly come when facing health challenges, and multi-family housing of various types, possibly used for occupancy by the elderly.

Where published guidelines for public facilities cross building types, we will touch on them. Since pictures are worth more than words, where possible, we will include graphic illustrations of guidelines from the United States Access Board. Understanding the intent of such rules can at least open a glimpse into similar issues also faced in less public settings.

Our focus here, however, will be on private residences. Millions of private homes are becoming more difficult to use as we age. Aging-in-place simply refers to the desire to stay in a familiar home as long as possible in life. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is “ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” The easiest way to do that is to adapt the living facilities to changes in physical capabilities anticipated to arise. Otherwise, our beloved homes can slowly become prisons. And according to the AARP, over ninety percent of polled seniors want to stay home as they age. This obviously creates challenges for their children.

Our intention with this course is to look at what can be done to make it possible to stay in our homes for as long as possible, despite the debilitating effects of advancing age. We wish to demystify what is needed to age-in-place, rather than in an institutional setting. And to hopefully do so, while not driving our children crazy with concern for us.

Learn More in Part 3.


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Aging in Place: Part 1 | 4 HSW Credits

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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