Self-Interest of Aging in Place Remodeling

Age in place

Self-interest makes some people blind, and others sharp-sighted.

~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A long anticipated sunny Saturday morning has finally come, you are sleeping-in after an exhausting and soul-draining work week. Soft morning sun filters in through the sheer curtains, the light sent of freshly made coffee begins to linger in the air. An early tee time awaits and your best friends from college are in town. You are in that semi-dream state of pleasant easing in and planning a day of recharging activities you choose to do…

Suddenly, that familiar blast of light and tone from your phone pierces the serenity of moment. A text from your sister: “Mom fell last night on the way to the bathroom, she was on the floor all night and we are taking her to the emergency room—you need to get here ASAP!”

The Call

Rosalynn Carter noted: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” The role is often thrust on loved ones when they least expect it—like a lazy Saturday morning. And your life suddenly becomes exponentially more challenging as you navigate from caregiving crisis to caregiving crisis. For many, it’s a role you knew was coming but you didn’t want to think about it—and you certainly didn’t think it would come today; but it did—and it does.

AARP has reported that 90% of members polled favor aging in place over institutional living, and yet 85% have done nothing about it. This scenario is preventable to a large extent, that is the sad part. But human nature being what it is we do not take proactive steps to avoid unseen calamities until it is too late. Many seniors often do not know what to do, or how to source help and adult children are often too entrenched in routines and demands of modern life to look up and see troubles ahead. Families are a system, which means what effects one, affects all.

Appeal to Self-Interest

In Robert Green’s bestselling book, The 48 Laws of Power, he states (cynically perhaps) in LAW # 13: WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE’S SELF-INTEREST, NEVER TO THEIR MERCY OR GRATITUDE. What I am about to propose will sound awful and I agree it is, but the appeal may land with some—it is outcome I am after, not process. The opening scenario does not have to play out as it did, you have the power to rewrite the ending. If you do not want to be dealing with a crisis early on a Saturday morning with an elderly parent, and instead would rather make that Tee time, then some pre-planning and intervention for your elderly loved ones can go a long way towards your joy—and theirs. It can be in your self-interest to take some relatively simple steps over several weekends/or hire it out to a Certified Aging in Place Specialists or handyman/woman who knows how to install aging-in-place modifications.

This sounds calculating and crass (it is) and yet a win-win is the potential outcome. The goal is safety, loving inter-dependence, and joy of living for all involved. If self-interest motivates you to make the aging-in-place remodeling necessary to keep them safe at home—then so be it. Your motives don’t have to be shared. The opportunity costs should to be considered, time away from your joys and responsibilities will mount—crisis is much more costly in terms of resources and human suffering (for all).

Time Better Spent

Investing time with elderly loved ones when they are safe and happy by choice, is preferable to suddenly being thrust into crisis-intervention mode and having to endure the suffering and loss associated with lack of planning/intervention. I can appeal to your better angels, like I have been doing for many, many years, for some that is enough (that ballpark 5%)—for others it is not. If you must, think of it in terms of your own opportunity costs, fine, whatever it takes. It has been said, poke any saint deep enough and you will find self-interest…That may or may not be true, but that is not relevant to the desired outcome. Just do it.

Tips from (A good start list/not exhaustive)

Non-Negotiable Aging-in-Place Modifications

  1. Grab Bars  2. PERS (Personal Emergency Response System)



Grab Bars and Tub Bars

Shower Bench or Chairs

Raised Toilet Seats

Non-Slip Flooring


Remote Lighting (motion sensor)

PERS system monitoring

Clear Pathways

Lighted path to Bathroom

Bedrails if needed


Non-slip Flooring

Cabinet pulls

Drop Down Cabinets

Extra Lighting -Task-Toe kick

Living Areas

Clear Pathways

Non-Slip Floors

No Mats (tack down and less than ¼ inch if necessary)

Entrance Door Accessibility

Lever Handles

Non-Barrier Transitions

Door Widening 36-38”

Lighting Motion Sensor

Small Bench (packages)



Other Potential “Self-Interest” Opportunity Cost Considerations: (Crisis Care of Seniors)

 ~Effects on your Primary Relationships

~Lost Wages when pulled from a workday/weeks or longer

~Lost Retirement income if going Part-time to care for elders

~Increase Stress Effects on Your Health

~Decreased Peace of Mind (Joy of Living)

~Sleep Deprivation and Depression

~Less Time for Friends

~Potential Conflict with Siblings Over Crisis Care

*Note this is not to imply that caregiving for elders is a negative experience, it can in fact be an incredibly positive and affirming time in life. The suffering and opportunity costs for lack of planning that leads to crisis care is the issue.


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