The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. That number is more than twice what it was in 2000, and represents nearly 20% of the entire projected 2030 population. Today in the US, one-third of all households are home to one or more persons 60 years old or older.
At the outset of helping a client to create a plan to age in place, the client may be extremely capable and their input will be appropriate and invaluable to you. But as time goes on the following questions become relevant when working with clients who are aging or developing disabilities.
Do aging clients and clients that develop disabilities have good days and bad days?
- Absolutely. It is best to be flexible enough to arrange to work with the client on his good days.
- The attitude and events occurring on days that are not so good should not be taken personally by you or your staff; don’t hold events happening on the bad days against the client.
- Don’t force decisions on bad days.
Even on good days can aging clients and clients that develop disabilities have better times of day?
- Absolutely. Daily events in aging client’s lives can be very much about timing and ritual.
- Some clients respond better in the morning while others will be at their best midday or afternoon. Arrange a time to work with them when they are at their best.
- Be thankful for good days and appreciate them for who they really are on those days when they can make good decisions.
Should I be aware that the unanticipated or unexpected may lead to confrontations on either day?
- Absolutely. The meeting environment should be familiar, and feel safe and unthreatening to your aging client.
- Anticipate the needs and moods of your aging client and take charge of the situation by providing for them appropriately. A general understanding of the client’s medical condition or diagnosis can be very useful – for example – how can diabetes manifest itself medically and psychologically?
- Make sure that it is the client’s wishes you are discussing and implementing, and not the wishes of the client’s children who are present at the appointment.
The sheer demographics presented by older Americans needing a place to age is unprecedented. Where are all these individuals going to live? How are they going to be cared for and by whom?
The primary goal of most persons who want to age in place is to maintain a similar quality of life in the home they spent their life time creating. What could be a more natural desire?
Yet when we look at the current economic situation in the U.S., the state of our health care system, and the available support systems, we can appreciate the need for individuals to carefully use their resources to ready themselves to age in place.
It is imperative that a good flexible plan that focuses on quality of life — including personal needs and healthcare, housing and lifestyle needs, and financial wellbeing — is created early on and maintained throughout one’s lifetime.