I am all for free will and free choice, and if there are people who want to live in a group facility or some type of managed care because that is a conscious lifestyle choice, that’s fine. However, that is only one choice for people as they age, and our role as aging in place professionals is to help people evaluate what they have now in terms of living space, determine a course of action (if any) to make their homes more livable, and then to execute a plan of action to make that happen and enable them to go on living in their homes – indefinitely.
There is no large-scale reason why someone in their 80s, 90s, or 100s cannot live successfully on their own – even with the help of family members or caregivers as necessary – anymore than there is an opposite reason that people in their 30s or 40s must live independently. There obviously are many factors involved, but we should be very careful of suggesting – and buying into it when others suggest it – that certain people or certain situations demand that a person leave their normal home environment and seek some type of managed care.
The whole concept of aging in place is that people can choose to remain living where they are and not have to be concerned about pulling up stakes and moving someplace where they don’t want to be. Of course, if medical treatment demands their relocation, that’s a different issue, but barring that people should have the ability – with our help – to remain living in the home of their choice for as long as they desire.
Sometimes the solutions we seek are going to be more challenging than others, and sometimes the physical constraints of the building are going to require more resourcefulness than others, but we should be up to that task. We need to be able to look at a space, examine how our clients currently are getting along in their home environment, determine what needs to occur to make their lives easier and more enjoyable, and then create those solutions for them – within the budget or funding parameters established and the personal desires of decor expressed.
When someone wants to remain in their home, we must do all that we can to help make that happen. We might even have to help them secure funding or financial assistance. We don’t have to be financial planners or loan originators to make this happen – just being knowledgeable about what is available to help them.
Keeping someone in their home – when this is their desire – may not be the easiest choice for us, but we need to make it happen. We have the knowledge and the ability.