Re-Thinking Aging in Community

CAPS Certified Aging in Place Specialist

Change your thinking, change your life.

~Ernest Holmes

 

Aging in Place

I was in a recent email exchange with a mentor of mine in gerontology. Our discussions have turned to COVID19 and the future of housing for older adults during a pandemic. We both agree the Long-Term Care (LTC) industry along with nursing homes are in trouble. Which means many who can will have to rethink plans for moving into them. Below he describes how he’s changed his mind on “aging in community” as represented by current senior housing options:

Staying Put

On a personal note– I am 75, male and have high blood pressure, so I am vulnerable.  I have five friends here in Boulder who have had the disease (all mild), but my wife and I practice very rigorous social distancing (mask, rubber gloves, hardly ever going out except during “senior hours” to buy groceries).

We’ve just completing reconstructing our ground-floor bathroom so that we can “age in place,” and I’ve abandoned my inquiries about senior living places in Boulder.  There are a number of very high-quality places: I know them very well and have been a lecturer for them and have friends there. But I don’t believe that the threat from COVID will pass quickly: it’s great to hope for a vaccine, but there’s no certainty about that at all.  And there’s no reason to believe that this is the last pandemic we will ever see. Fortunately, we have the financial resources to have home care and I’ve long ago had excellent private long-term care insurance, so aging-in-place is not a problem for us at all.  We are privileged people.

I thought you would be interested in this personal dimension, and I think it has much wider implications.  The senior living industry (not just nursing homes) is in big trouble– just like the restaurant industry and the travel industry– and urban living in general.  Some recovery will probably happen.  But for you, my friend, we are living through a moment of historical transformation.

Successful Elements of Aging in Place/Keys to his Plan 

  1. I am 75, male and have high blood pressure, so I am vulnerable.

Intellectually understands his health risks. Doesn’t deny, rationalize, or report false information from unreliable resources.

Take Home: Trusts the Science and Knows His Own Health risks (Self-Care model)

  1. my wife and I practice very rigorous social distancing (mask, rubber gloves, hardly ever going out except during “senior hours” to buy groceries).

Taking steps to not only protect himself and his wife, but others as well.

Take Home: Proactive in Precautionary Health Preservation Steps (Sphere of Influence)

  1. We’ve  just completed reconstructing our ground-floor bathroom so that we can “age in place”

Knows that a “Forever Home” will need some changes to accommodate aging and is savvy enough to invest in them.

Take Home: Begun the Process of Hiring remodelers for Aging in Place (Investing in a future at home with design that enhances Safety and Comfort)

  1. I don’t believe that the threat from COVID will pass quickly: it’s great to hope for a vaccine, but there’s no certainty about that at all. 

“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
– Bertrand Russell

Take Home: Understands the Nature of the Problem (Science > magical thinking) yet expresses uncertainty.

  1. we have the financial resources to have home care and I’ve long ago had excellent private long-term care insurance

Made the future a part of his current philosophy.

Take Home: Prepared Financially Ahead of Time for Aging (Imagined his future-self and set-in-motion a plan)

  1. We are privileged people.

Aware of his good fortune in life. Being Grateful is key to “Successful Aging” and a robust body of Literature supports this.

Take Home: Gratitude (Awareness)

  1. The senior living industry (not just nursing homes) is in big trouble

Knows the implications (Systems Thinking) and is able to see big picture prognosis of a dim future for current forms of institutional housing of older adults.

Take Home: Understands the Issues (Educated on the Implications of Pandemic Virus outbreaks in crowded spaces with elders)

 

Unpacking this email is an exercise in examining aging in the era of a Pandemic. My friend and colleague is an expert in the field of Gerontology. His correspondence shows he’s responding and adjusting to meet the new realities. Many will have to make similar course corrections that were unimaginable at the beginning of the year. The COVID19 virus is here to stay, at least for now. We must learn to Coexist for the short-term, safely, smartly, and with compassion for others. If we fail this challenge many will not live to know old age…

 

See

 

Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19

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