Life events are easier seen in others than in ourselves. We see the need to make things easier for children—our, or our grandkids. We see the need when someone else struggles to make do. But we tend to miss the need when it is ourselves—maybe we are too focused on our own emotional response to our changes. But life events—positive and negative—should be the natural triggers. Here are a few life events that should cause us to pause and think about our “built environment”:
- Buying your retirement home. So many times, we’ve hear of someone who bought, built or remodeled the home they plan to live in for their retirement and they gave not a thought to accessibility, caregiving. No planning to put a grab in the shower or even considering if they could easily get out of that deep jetted tub or off the lowboy toilet they liked. Buying a home for your empty nester years and beyond is the time to ensure you have the basic provisions for the future. And, if the home does not have the basics, get them before you move in. Later, it will be a heck of a disruption to your life to retrofit them.
- Early warning signs. Unfortunately, some of the most enlightened people we deal with are those who have assisted a loved one through a disability or degenerative condition. Being a caregiver can be a wake-up call that helps them to see that one’s home does not need to be such an unforgiving environment (the fifth principle of universal design is Tolerance for Error, which should be expanded to cover the “I wish I had thought this through before” type of error.) When you first get word that you have some issues, that is the time to modify so that your world is as forgiving as possible for as long as you have the ability to enjoy it.
- Time for you. What is wrong with having what you want? A home you enjoy and can be proud of rather than curse and be frustrated with? As you look to spend more and more time in your home—or maybe a second home—you should look at what you want to do to make it yours. And while you consider the aesthetics, think of your future and what will make this home a haven for as long as you want it to be one. If you are smart, beauty and future function will merge wonderfully.
Often, it also just makes more financial—as well as emotional—sense to maintain and modify your home. Sounds like a good topic for next time.