Aging in Place Calls for Advance Planning
One of the most common problems facing those in rehabilitation following a fall or other health problem is that they want to return home but it isn’t accessible to them. There are stairs they’re unable to climb or bathtubs unsafe to enter for a shower. They can’t go home until adaptations have been made, but because they’re stuck in rehab and aren’t feeling well, they need to rely on others to make the necessary changes. If they’re lucky, they have a relative capable of managing it or the funds to pay for someone who can, but sometimes people don’t return home because of accessibility issues. (You can imagine the conversations they have with the psychologist about this.)
To avoid this scenario, consider following the tips Paula Span has outlined in her New York Times article, “Planning to Age in Place? Find a Contractor Now.” Span notes that, “Without modifications…the design of most older Americans’ homes could eventually thwart their owners’ desire to stay in them.” She suggests working with a contractor and an occupational therapist simultaneously to identify potential problems and make alterations, and to apply universal design to the creation of a new home.
My parents took the route of downsizing to an apartment, a choice that was years in the making but was subsequently considered “one of the wisest decisions we ever made.” Their children agree.