By Donna J. Franz
Three things to think about on the home front this year are:
- Quality of Life.
- Why do we need to plan for quality of life?
- What are the benefits of planning
Quality of Life
Health is on our minds in 2021. Globally, health is considered to be the most valued human asset. We believe our health means quality of life, but quality of life is greater than our health alone.
In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the definition of “health status” as a “complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely absence of disease.”
WHO recognizes that quality of life is also cultural, social, environmental, wealth, and life satisfaction. Today, we are feeling the effects of our loss of quality of life due to COVID -19 — loss of cultural, social and environmental freedoms.
WHO developed a Quality of Life Scale that asks how safe your physical environment is:
- Do you have enough energy for your every-day activities
- Do you feel safe, do you have access to information
- Does pain prevent you from doing what you need to do
- Are you able to concentrate, enjoy life, and feel your life to be meaningful?
- Are you able to get around
- Do you have enough money and opportunity for leisure?
Why do we need to plan for quality of life?
To create a safe environment that prevents:
- Social isolation
- Changes in function
- Loss of independence
To ensure quality of life, we need to create a safe environment for ourselves in our home, where we can remain as engaged, productive, active, happy, and healthy.
In 2020, we learned about, or better understood, the deleterious effects of imposed social isolation, which is a “risk factor” for the development of disability or disease.
Many of us did not experience social isolation prior to COVID -19; however, many seniors and persons with disabilities were familiar with social isolation and are now feeling it to a greater degree.
Social isolation undermines health and quality of life, which is created by preventing or minimizing the effects of social isolation.
Ask yourself: Do I use Zoom, Microsoft teams, iPhones etc. to the fullest extent and regularly connecting with isolated family and friends?
If no, what are your next steps?
Will I find a way to connect loved ones with resources on the internet — education classes with the Society for Learning in Retirement?
Changes in function
During this pandemic, many people are thinking about home renovations and diverting funds from travel to the home front. Many of our homes are not designed for us to age in place. Remax’s 2021 Outlook informs single family homes are in limited supply, prices are rising, and housing inventory in Kelowna remains low.
Would you be able to age safely in your current home? Provided in-person gatherings are safe, would a senior using a walker be able to visit your current home?
Would a friend who requires a wheelchair be able to join you for a dinner party? How easy would it be to get your grandchildren’s stroller in and out of your house?
Is your home VisitAble?
Studies show 90% of people want to age in their homes, versus moving to assistive living or long-term care. Stairs can become unsafe as our senses change — low vision, reduced balance. Bathrooms without safety features such as grab bars can be hazardous.
Barrier-free homes allow us to safely and gracefully age in our environments. Hiring an Aging in Place Home Modification professional assists you with making optimal decisions.
Aging in Place Home Renovations offer optimal social interaction, the antidote to social isolation, and create access to nature and clean fresh invigorating air.
As we age quality of life may change, unless we plan for our changing needs. Not planning for changes in one’s health, vision, hearing, balance, mobility, pain, strength, and function, on a temporary or permanent basis, is an example of not planning for and choosing quality of life.
Loss of independence
Those diagnosed with COVID-19 and have shared the challenge they faced to with fatigue and the ability to breath. Planning for quality of life means planning for those days when we need help. When we need help, we need space in our homes for caregivers and equipment that optimizes independence.
Ask if there is enough room in your bathroom for equipment and a loved one to help you with bathing?
What are the benefits of planning?
Renovations are expensive. Redoing or retrofitting five or 10 years later to make a home safer and easier to use, is an expense we can all do without. Assisted Living for $2,700 a month will cost $97,200 in three years.
For this amount, you can renovate a bathroom and kitchen, which adds value to your home. Hiring Aging in Place professionals will help you thrive in your future.
Like any great expedition planning is required to ensure safety and maximize opportunity. Life is just an example of a great expedition. Not planning and preparing our homes for our future is asking for our resources of energy, time, and money to be unnecessarily taxed.
Investing time and energy in planning for quality of life is a kind and thoughtful way to take care of yourself.
Donna Franz is an occupational therapist at Design 4 Accessibility.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.