Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Connecticut

Aging in Place

When I was 30 years old, 60 seemed light years away. I was a tennis pro with all of the time in the world. Fast forward 30 years; nowadays I concern myself with helping seniors remain in their homes as long as possible. As my sons were being born and my tennis days were numbered I began wondering what next. Being raised by my grandmother as my mother worked, I witnessed first hand at a young age broken hips, bad falls, strokes and Alzheimer’s. I learned how difficult just one step up into a room could be. I addressed each problem as it came up with improvised ramps, grab handles, and anything else that could help her. So for 24 years I have been in the business of modifying homes—28 if you count the experiments back then with my grandmother. Not much in the way of products was available back then you had to be creative. As the need became more obvious, products began to appear that focused on specific needs and allowed some choices.

I have been privileged to work with some very knowledgeable and wonderful people and organizations; State of Ct. Bureau of Rehabilitation, Visiting Nurse Associations, Regional Alzheimer’s Association, many occupational therapists and my dear friend William Wasch - Connecticut delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging & author of Home Planning for Your Later Years. The wealth of knowledge that these fine people shared with me was overwhelming. I do not pretend to know health care just as my health care associates do not try to know construction. It’s a perfect match; the therapists tell me what the needs are and we figure out how to implement them. Throughout the years we have covered all needs from grab bars, ramps, bathroom remodels, to full size additions. We are not the least expensive nor the most expensive; some of our payment is seeing an idea turn into a very helpful functioning change.

I have met many seniors through the years and I am noticing a change with Baby Boomers. This group that is moving into retirement age seems to be more interested in what they can do to make their homes more safe and comfortable rather than just adapting to their existing home. Years ago, seniors did not want to put even the simplest grab bar in their homes for fear it would devalue them. However, the Baby Boomer seems to be more open minded. Along with modifying homes I have offered a consulting service through the years and I am a certified age in place specialist. In the last few years I have had a number of people call me to discuss modifications to their home. They want to be sure they can afford the changes before they decide to retire. My own opinion of this trend is that many of us have had a parent or parents that they recently looked after or are currently looking after that require time and effort. This is making them think strongly about their own position in a few years. I too am considering what I can do to be less of a burden on my children and keep my wife and myself more independent as we age. I sincerely believe that the ability to look forward with an open mind has improved with this generation. Helping seniors age in place has many advantages; it can allow them to continue their ability to remain independent and extends the convenience of familiar surroundings and friends. The cost savings compared to alternative housing can also be a huge factor; a persons funds can drain very quickly. Here in Connecticut we have title 19 which provides care for those in financial need whose own funds have run out. This is a wonderful assistance, but can we really afford to put the largest generation ever to age in this country on title 19 or can we do a better job by helping people age in place longer?

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