Grow up, get settled, put down roots, stay put, establish a family dynasty, live happily ever after, and die peacefully at home. That’s pretty much the favored formula for a life well lived. Some variations are inevitable. Never seen, however, is a life-formula that includes spending one’s final years in a miserable succession of lonely, disease-ridden, final years of deprivation. Yet, that is what aging-in-place has come to mean. But, in needn’t be that way.
Just a little planning, a scant bit of forward thinking, a smidgen of discipline in early years, and eyes wide open to the unavoidable, undeniable certainty of becoming an old person, will combine to create a life that can finish strong.
Aging-in-place is not a dirty phrase. Instead it can be something to happily anticipate, and to expectantly welcome if preparations have been made; and the time to make preparations for a life-moment many decades in the future is before the count of decades already lived becomes too many. Prepare yourself. Blink just a few times and you’ll already be a little old man or a little old woman, a helpless geezer, a probably-no-longer-self-reliant really old guy. It can’t be stopped.
Early-in-life preparations should include:
- Floor plans which allow space for easy movement through the house of wheelchairs, walkers, and hospital beds,
- Easy access to beds, baths and closets,
- Kitchen utensils should be reachable from a wheelchair.
- Flat floors without sunken or raised rooms.
- Easy passage either directly of by ramps from inside to outside
- Lots of room around parked vehicles, whether in a garage, carport, or driveway, to accommodate accessibility to get in and out of vehicles.
- Straight-path foot-traffic areas between properly placed furnishings,
- Wide doors and openings
- Wide halls
- ample room to allow wheelchairs and power chairs to turn into and out of rooms
- bathrooms with roll-in showers
- forward thinking to the day when most possessions will be stored between 16″ and 60″ above the floor for easy retrieval and replacement.
- Multiple floors should be accessible by lift, stair-glide, or elevator. Plan this many years in advance if money is short at the time of initial construction.
There is no joy in finding yourself restricted from your own house. Avoid such self-restriction with pre-planning.
Think. Plan. Act. Live well.
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