Along with aging in place, universal design is becoming more of a household term. Universal design is the creation of environments and products that are meant to be used by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialization. Essentially, it’s about building or modifying places and spaces—both public and private—to accommodate people of all ages and abilities.
Below are a few questions (and answers!) to consider when determining if aging in place, and creating a universally designed space, is the right choice for you and your aging loved one in the long term.
Is Their Home Safe? No one can remain completely independent for long in a home that cannot sustain him or her safely. If your loved one’s home is unsafe, it’s important to be proactive and make modifications/repairs or find a new residence nearby that better meets his or her needs. If your parents need home modifications today, it’s worth starting projects now before they are definitely required for safety purposes.
Can They Communicate with Ease? Many adult children live hundreds of miles from their parents. Phone calls and Skype chats are useful to make sure they (and their homes) are in good shape. For seniors and their caregivers, VTech’s CareLineTM home telephone and personal communication system enables seniors to live independent lifestyles and gives families confidence in their loved ones’ ability to easily connect with them.
Are They Mobile? Few steps are more symbolic of the loss of independence than giving up one’s car keys. If your loved one can no longer drive, he or she may face isolation and the loss of access to regular activities – potentially disrupting routines and leading to reduced mobility. You can help make sure the loss of a car doesn’t mean a loss of engagement by arranging alternative transportation options. The American Automobile Association (AAA) and AARP both have great tips for older drivers. Help parents scout such services now, before they’re needed.
Are Resources Readily Available? Most towns have local grocery stores that deliver – Peapod.com is a national service that delivers from local stores. Many drugstores also deliver prescriptions without a fee and Drugstore.com can ship a large variety of products to your aging loved one overnight. If you don’t have a local store that delivers, netgrocer.com is a backup, although shipping is quite expensive. Meals on Wheels is also a great resource – they will bring your loved one a hot meal every day.
If you’re still not sure if this is a good option for your loved one you might consider hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to evaluate their current home and community and make proper recommendations – believe me it will be well worth the money spent! Most older adults I speak with, hands-down, say that they wish to remain in their home forever. With proper planning it’s possible, in many cases, for that dream to become a reality!
Disclaimer: Content and suggestions provided within should not be construed as a formal recommendation and AJA Associates, LLC makes no representations, endorsements or warranties relating to the accuracy, use or completeness of the information