They’d been married for over 50 years when he died. At 80 she was in decent health but she wasn’t able to take care of the one acre, 2,900 square foot homestead by herself. So with the help of her children, she sold the house and downsized into a condo. Surrounded by 4 children, 8 grandchildren and one great grandchild, she had an incredible will to live. She chose a two-story condo because, in her mind, she needed the exercise of going up and down stairs.
A few years went by and she fell and broke her leg. Fueled by that ferocious will, she became a star pupil in the school of her rehabilitation. Upon graduation, she was back in her home.
Stop the story.
Grandma and her children made no other modifications in her home other than installing a safety rail near the toilet and in the shower.
That was a mistake.
What could the family have done to increase Grandma’s safety and quality of life at home? Number one: educate themselves.
How could this family get educated if they weren’t even aware of help, where to start or who to call?
Are you a contractor that is in and out of people’s homes every day? Can you be the start of that education process?
Back to Grandma’s story. Quite a few years went by from the time she first fell until the last fall that put her in assisted living. The family did install a walk-in bathtub which also had a hand-held shower and a few other modifications. The sad and agonizing part of this story is, however, that she only had a few months to enjoy these quality-of-life-enablers before the fall that put her in assisted living.
Of course, we can’t blame Grandma or her family. They simply didn’t know.
Do you know what this family could have done to keep Grandma comfortable and safe in her home, for as long as she was able to live by herself?
I’m going to take that moment of silence or that sentence that started with “install grab bars??” as a, “no I really don’t know.”
Don’t feel bad. You are not alone.
As mentioned earlier, the number one thing this family should have done was educate themselves. And as someone who has the potential to help folks like Grandma, the number one thing you can do is educate yourself and your team.
Start by exploring: Aging in Place.
Aging in Place means being able to live in the home of your choice as you grow older, for as long as you can, while receiving all of the assistance or services you need to maintain your safety and quality of life.
Until recently, I had never heard of the term “aging in place” much less that there was a movement about it. But at the International Roundtable event in St. Pete Beach, Florida, my education process began. Since then I performed an unofficial survey of 30 or so high level industry professionals; no one else had heard of it either.
If you’re a businessperson in the professional trades, little alarms should have gone off in your head. Are you aware that there are approximately 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. today and almost 10 million in Canada. And over half of them are already over the age of 65. And then there is the Silent Generation, those folks who are older than the Boomer. In the U.S. that is approximately 30 million and in Canada over 3 million. So, yes these groups represent large markets of possibility - especially when not many other businesses are tuned into offering the products and services that will allow these generations to remain independent and living in their homes.
Universal design, the longevity economy, community involvement, eye-opening statistics and mind boggling opportunities are just a few areas of Aging in Place that we will explore here at Comanche Marketing. In the meantime I encourage you to read up on it. Grandmas along with grandpas and their children represent a powerful emotional connection to the “aging in place” effort. The emotional component may drive the effort, but the business components will solve the problems. Be thinking about what your company can offer to solve the problems.
If you’re related to anyone over 50 and especially those 65 and older, you get this.
Special thanks to Mark Hager, founder of AgeInPlace.com. Mark is a knowledgeable and passionate Age in Place advocate who provided initial enlightenment (along with the definition above) for me on this topic.