Aging in Place 7 Habits Applied

Covey's 7 Habits for Aging in Place

“Every human has four endowments- self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.”

~Stephen R. Covey

Stephen Covey’s seminal work on how to create a better human species titled “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was first published in 1989 and has sold over 15 million copies in 38 languages since first its release.

The concepts are timeless and can be broadly applied as I have done here with aging in place. What follows is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Aging in Place:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Synopsis: Take initiative in life by realizing your decisions (and how they align with life’s principles) are the primary determining factors for effectiveness in your life. Taking responsibility for your choices and the subsequent consequences that follow.

Aging in Place: Be Proactive; day-in-and-day-out you are faced with “choice points” that will have a cumulative effect on your independence. If you choose what’s easy now (not take that walk and stay on the couch—or not install that light on the stairs and put up with the dark steps); life will be hard later.

Many people wait until a crisis (“A Crisis buy”) to begin the aging-in-place remodeling projects; and crisis-driven interventions are seldom as effective as proactive ones.

Proactivity is being anticipatory and taking charge of situations; adaptivity is about responding to change, proactivity is about initiating change.

 Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Synopsis: Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envisioning the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.

Aging in Place: Begin with the End in Mind is making the future a part of your current philosophy. According to the Aging in America study of several years ago, seniors fear nursing homes over death; so for most, independence is a deeply held value and goal.

Think seriously about how much you value the rituals and natural rhythms of your simple daily living at home that you’ve cultivated over the years. Coffee in the morning and reading the paper in your favorite chair perched in the front window; after you let the cat out. Or shopping at the grocer where the clerk knows you by first name—then imagine life without them.

Look around the house and determine what is going to potentially be a challenge in the coming years. Do an aging-in-place assessment and make a priority list of action items.

Is adding a bathroom on the first floor, installing a lift on the stairs, or an access ramp, something I can do now that will keep me in my home 5-10 years from now?

Hosting family over for traditional life events; and being able to have grandkids stay whenever you choose. Does being a grandparent mean having a home where grand kids can find refuge and a place to stay?

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Synopsis: Planning, prioritizing, and executing your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluating if your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you towards goals, and enrich the roles and relationships elaborated in Habit 2.

Aging in Place: Prioritizing remodeling goals with budget in mind. What are the “biggest-bang-for-the-buck” aging-in-place remodeling items?

Consult a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS); Architect specializing in Universal design; or Occupational Therapist trained in aging-in-place design.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win or No Deal

Synopsis: Genuinely striving for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Valuing and respecting people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten their way.

Aging in Place: Win-win means considering the concerns of spouses as well as adult children. Staying in one’s home may not be the best solution for all parties. Sometimes aging in place is not possible.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Synopsis: Using empathetic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening, take an open mind to being influenced by you, which creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.

Aging in Place: Listen to partner/spouse and understand their wants and needs for aging-in-place remodeling; as well as to CAPS remodeling professionals for suggestions prior to making decisions.

 Habit 6: Synergize

Synopsis: Combining the strengths of people through positive teamwork, to achieve goals no one person could have done alone. How to yield the most prolific performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.

Aging in Place: Synergize with other family members by sharing aging-in-place goals; ask for feedback and input; form a team-work approach with CAPS professionals.

Make the community part of your aging in place team strategy; employ senior services like meals-on-wheels; the local area agency on aging; AARP chapters; churches; See Aging in Place HELP for more resources.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Synopsis: The balancing and renewal of your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable long-term effective lifestyle.

Aging in Place: Keep up on new technologies for aging-in-place; visit web sites for developments in universal design; and educate yourself about what’s available in the aging in place market. Aging in Place Technology Watch Will Keep you up on the fast-changing home telemetry sector.

Keep physically and mentally fit (your body and mind need to be available to you) for successfully aging in place.

These 7 habits applied to aging-in-place can be a guide to independence and a more rich-fuller expression of who you are in the years to come.

Now get started and make a difference in other’s lives!

~Patrick



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