Facing Our fears

by Louis on November 5, 2007

A new study from Clarity co-sponsored by the EAR Foundation speaks very clearly to the critical issues older Americans face as they contemplate senior housing. Aging in Place is very important to 89% of the seniors surveyed. The ability to do so is a concern of 53%.

Those numbers closely resemble widely reported AARP results in the 2003 study called These Four Walls. (Updated study 11/2010)That study concluded that most Americans want to remain in their own homes but are not taking steps to do so.

The four greatest fears reported from the new survey of older Americans are:
1. Loss of independence (26%)
2. Moving out of home into a nursing home (13%)
3. Giving up driving (11%), and Loss of family and friends (11%)
The fear some might expect to rank highest, Death, comes in at 3%.

This study reinforces my conviction that older folks are not in denial but are adults who deserve respect. I believe many older Americans investigate housing options and do what any wise consumer does: finding nothing they want in the marketplace they buy nothing. They stay put. They hunker down and make do. No one wants to buy the wrong thing just because the right thing is not available.

Tying the first two fears together is the fear of losing the comforts of home and the control over one’s surroundings. Living in your own home (castle?) means you control when you get up, when you lie down, when you eat, what is served, and who visits and when.

What can we do to help these wise consumers allay their fears? Promote home modifications and other plans to Age in Place.

A no step entry is a good example of home modifications that can allay fears. Not only does the entry reduce the risk of falling on the way in or out and make it easier to get help coming and going, but it means you can. If you can get in and out easily you are in control. You don’t even have to go anywhere for this to allay your fears. Just knowing you can provides peace of mind.

It is easy to project this ability and control to other home modifications. You can shower and receive guests. You can set your alarm for the time you like or wake up on you own. We order carry out all the time, not in the least diminishing our choice to cook if we so desire. We can cook if we want. That same control conveys to people of any age. How many times does a child throw a fit when they don’t get to eat what they want? It is about control. It is about independence.

The control we are talking about and the dignity it confers is the independence people want and fear losing. Being in control makes you king or queen. Is it your home if the rules are made by others? That is the tension we experience with our children. Our job is to use the rules to guide them to adulthood. What reason do we have for stealing this back from our parents who are adults?

We must move forward promoting, providing and funding home modificons and all the other elements of Aging in Place to keep our older citizens from living in fear. We must provide the dignity and respect our older citizens deserve.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Y November 9, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Louis: I couldn’t agree more that “we must move forward promoting, providing and funding home modifications…” Yet why have law makers been so slow in recognizing the cost savings to taxpayers of paying for home modifications to help low-income elders age in place, at a fraction of the cost for publicly supporting them in a nursing home?


Chuck T January 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Mary that is a very good question, I also would like to here why that is; Louis, I have asked this question in other social media, and have not received any response. What is your answer?


Scott January 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Louis- Nice little discussion there. I tried to follow the links to the studies you referenced and couldn’t get there. Any chance you could send an active link. I’d like to take a full look at the data.
Thanks- I hope you are doing well in 2012!


Louis January 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

The reason government does not recognize and take advantage of home modifications is the complexity of government itself. First of all the issues- primarily health/housing reside in different “silos” of government spending with historically different purposes. Second, government ‘silos’ don;t work together/communicate well at all. Their computer systems are highly securitized making cross bureau or agency cooperation exceedingly difficult. Third, there are competing interests for every dollar. Congress, where dollars originate, does not function very directly. Hope now resides in the burgeoning accountable care organizations responding to mandates from “Obama care’.


shoshan Shacham June 17, 2012 at 3:38 am

.Dear Louis Tenenbaum
As always you are 100% right ..Older people all over the world do what any wise consumer does: finding nothing they want in the marketplace they buy nothing.
We the older people , want to stay at home and “to continue our life as usual ” means:to have Independent Living , at our home in ourur community , with our friends and last but not least to be connected to our family.
It goes with out aying that Home Modifications is Mandatory prerequisite but it is not enough ‘
To my view what elderly people are looking for is to be connected to ONE STOP SHOP – One Focal Point to provide, on a daily basis, a sustainable personalize complementary service covers a full 360 spectrum of services!
Home Modifications is mandatory prerequisite but it is not enough
This is what Homage for Life is all about : A Dynamic Service platform enabler to address each elderly people his basic individual’s needs & fears.
Shoshan Shacham ( 1.4/1941)
http://www.shacham 3i.com


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