Tarnished Golden Years

Terry Brezsny Ballantyne
- Terry Brezsny Ballantyne

Tarnished Golden Years

Looking ahead to our “golden years” is nobody’s idea of a great conversation starter. If you are under 40 you may be inclined to stop reading here, but DON”T. Likely you have parents, aunts, older cousins and they need your wisdom about thinking ahead, and as surely as the sun rises in the east, you are aging. (Shocking, I know.) I  am finally hearing conversations at open houses about folks who are spry and active in their mid-60s saying “I Know,” with a capital K “that I want to stay in my home ‘til the last day.” And they tell me they are accepting emotionally and cognitively that a house with a caregiver layout is important.  With smart planning and a place for an affordable caregiver, your golden years won’t be tarnished.

At last! They are thinking ahead and want curbless showers, comfort height commodes, easy latches and handles for tired joints, high contrast counters, and an adjacent suite or dwelling for the caregiver. The awareness that we are all  marching on the continuum to fragile older beings is beginning to dawn, as we see our relatives live well into their 90s! It’s hard to conceive that at 60 you may easily have 30 more years of living. Why not make them comfortable?

My friend Julio has a mom who is 106 and going strong! These days I hear that more and more.

Here are some tips to think about if you are remodeling:

1. Raise or lower the kitchen sink to allow for possible sitting positions while peeling potatoes, etc.

2. Elevate the refrigerator and have storage underneath so it’s at eye level, and be sure it has a  bright interior light.

3. Consider pullout or adjustable shelving to ease strain on the back.

4. Raise the dishwasher so stooping is not necessary.

5. Declutter closets! Fighting with a heavy coat and flying hangers can be a problem.

6. Install automatic lighting that comes on at dusk.

7. Have bright lights in the closets so folks can leave the house with matching shoes!

8. Get everything off the floor and keep it off. Trip hazards abound in a cluttered house at any age!

Americans plan better for our vacations, our kids’ college, or our app selections than we plan for aging. It’s not a dirty word; if my 90-year-old clients are right, it’s a beautiful time, free of burdens, free to say and do whatever you want, free to enjoy birds singing, time to be selfish! Plan now and insure that you will really enjoy it.


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