Early mornings at my house, you can often hear the giggle of a mischievous, adorable toddler named Jaxon. This little guy fondly refers to me as Papa, and we enjoy every moment that we get to spend together. As a new grandpa, I have begun to realize some of the common denials that we all experience as we age and start to feel the frailty of life.
I remember the days that I could bounce up off the floor with ease, play sports and do so many other things that my body is not able to do as easily today. No one wants to admit aging or that they cannot do activities they previously could do—but such is the reality. The common mistake is ignoring aging and the minor changes in mobility, and in turn causing a catastrophic event that produces long-term and permanent injuries.
What to Look For
Often, mobility challenges come in small changes that can be almost unnoticeable: simple aching in joints, an inability to ambulate as easily as before, frequency of misteps or tripping, etc. Many will simply ignore or not even notice these signs as they develop, and hence will not take the precautionary steps to prevent a catastrophic event. Additionally, various other factors can add to the hazards and can increase the chances of a trip or fall injury. It is important to pay close attention to the conditions that individuals live in each and every day, as well as varying weather conditions that can add to these hazards.
Planning for Success
Even the most active individuals can find themselves neglecting the necessary exercise that can increase their ambulatory ability and reduce the chances of catastrophic falls. Finding a good gym or a group that is of the same age category that focuses on exercise and balance will assist greatly in eliminating falls. Many dealers and providers who specialize in medical equipment and accessibility often provide classes that employ teaching and resources for exercise that is beneficial. The same group also may offer educational resources about how to live safely as you age.
Preparing for Accessibility
Make a personal list of the pros and cons of your own living situation, focusing on what is most important to you, and discuss your thoughts with friends and family. Share your thoughts with family members and those closest to you who will be impacted by your final decision.
Visit independent living communities in your area so that you will have a feel for options other than staying in your home. You will want to compare amenities—including social, recreational and transportation.
Consider the support systems that are readily available near your home including:
- In-home living assistance for meals, general homemaking and maintenance
- Nearby social connections
- Proximity of health care facilities.
To assess your home for future health issues that may arise, it is best to hire a professional. Start with the National Association of Home Builders, where you will find information about what to consider and professionals who can assess your home. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) is someone trained to carefully consider what accommodations your house might need now and in the future to accommodate changes in health and mobility. The Aging in Place Initiative offers valuable information that will help to guide you to thoughtful consideration for your future.
This article is the second in a six-part aging-in-place case study series. Each segment will focus on a particular aspect of aging-in-place. Read other articles in this series here.