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Aging in Place, Entitlement, The Trigger

by Louis on January 27, 2010

Heading into the Post Office yesterday I saw a woman taking the time to steady herself after climbing from the car. I offered to take her letters into the box. She gathered strength and concentration for a smile and declined. “I have to check the postage at the desk.”

On my way out I traded smiles with another woman climbing into her car.

She was using a ‘handicapped” space (I hate the handle, but that is another blog). She seemed not to have too much trouble walking. She had the placard. She earned it with her years and arthritis and maybe much more I cannot see. She feels entitled to that space.

Folks with disabilities who need the middle space for unloading or transferring, have difficulty walking or very little stamina are sometimes miffed about ambulatory placard holders filling those spaces. This is not today’s topic.

Thetopic is the trigger. The trigger is one of my consistent noodles. How do we get people to act, in their own best interest, in advance of needs, to plan for Aging in Place? How do we move the trigger forward?

It is tough to sell home modifications for Aging in Place when they are really needed. The timing and mindset aren’t right for design and remodeling decisions. The prognosis and so the value is not clear.

Home modification value is more clear when you do them earlier. Universal Design is the approach. The results are beautiful, helpful, preventative, not problem focused, corollary benefits. The time for design is available. Inclusion and lifestyle as well as planning for Aging in Place are rationale for Universal Design in remodeling. Not desperation. It makes good sense.

But Universal Design is a real tough sell! Promoting Universal Design suffers an inherent contradiction. Because so few know what it is many promotional efforts end up referring to disability and frailty, the antithesis of Universal Design. This association results in a stigma, and avoidance by, the general population Universal Design is conceived to reach.

Why are people who feel entitled to a ‘handicap space’ reluctant to plan in their own homes? The stigma, at it’s worst, is right there in the space’s name- Handicapped!Yet people sign up proudly.AARP, and other research show that people want to Age in Place. Yet, very few plan for it. How is the planning for Aging in Place different than applying for a handicapped space placard?

I don’t have any answers, but I sure am interested. I invite you to share your thoughts.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gael Tannenbaum February 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Louis, your comment "Why are people who feel entitled to a 'handicap space' reluctant to plan in their own homes?" has been haunting me. It is such an apt expression of the problem. How can we make planning for the future as enticing as getting that placard? As we age, we are entitled to the comfort, ease and safety we have been enjoying our whole life. If we just plan a little – think ahead, we can acheive it to a large extent. It shouldn't be a stigma – it should be an entitlement…even a demand that people make as they get older. 'I demand a home that meets my needs!'


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