We’re Not Getting Any Younger
Darlene, my neighbor, still gardens and has the prettiest roses on our block. She is backing to walking to and from the United Methodist Church just down the block which is a major step for her. She had her hip replaced this past year, a serious issue for someone who lives in a turn of the century Victorian home. In her mid-80’s, Darlene is emblematic of the new senior citizen. Today’s senior citizens are living longer, healthier and more independently than at any time in the past. The vast majority expect to live in their homes as long as possible.
Seniors are also the fastest growing demographic group in America. As of the 2010 census, 13% of the population was over the age of 65 and it was the fastest-growing segment in America. Combined with the aging baby boomer generation, by 2030 this number is expected to double to 71 million people.
Aging in place is an issue now for current and soon-to-be senior citizens. The quality of life for seniors is greatly dependent on the condition of the home in terms of safety and ease of access and movement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 3 Americans over the age of 65 will fall. Falls lead to bone fractures, head traumas and the possibility of early death.2 Many of those falls are in the home and could have been prevented by making some simple modifications to the living arrangements.
However, it’s not just falling that is of concern. Senior accidents in the home occur due to burns, cuts, dropping items, hitting heads, and making twisting moves that strain muscles and joints. These injuries are the result of seniors trying to live in homes that have not been adapted to less flexible bodies, elderly assistive devices decreased eyesight and hearing, and increasing mental confusion. Aging in the home actually has several components:
Safe and Convenient Living
Adaptive Living Conditions
Living with Dignity
Aging problems are often blamed on failing bodies when in fact it’s their homes that are creating serious difficulties. Most houses are not specifically built to accommodate senior citizens and so don’t take into account typical senior issues like limited range of reach and mobility or lack of flexibility and balance. Something like dim lighting or a small crack in the kitchen floor tile becomes a major hazard when a person has issues like these.
Aging in place allows individuals to remain in their homes as long as possible by designing those homes to be safe and attractive to their owners.
First in a series.....