Thursday, June 25, 2009
Universal Design: Geriatric Planning
I don’t really do something that we are all supposed to do: I don’t have a fire emergency plan for my home – not really.
I live in an attached-house part of town and know my neighbors, as do my kids. There’s a lots of people just a few doors up and down my block. A fire happens and we’ll be out front checking on each other – that’s the way it’s happened when there were other fires.
We also are loaded up with cell phones. I have plenty of smoke detectors and a few fire extinguishers. We all know the way out of the house and there are two exits to most parts of the house, even the basement. I’m attentive to these emergency plans but also winging it. I’ve thought things through but I’m also stumbling along. I have a lot of trust that things won’t go wrong. We’re all able bodied. If a school teacher were to grade me, I’d be a C+.
I should have a thorough assessment. I should have a plan. I should review it annually. I should do fire drills. I should share it with my neighbors. I should be at least an A-.
That’s fire. What about getting older? Same thing, but I’m not as prepared. Right now, I might be thinking about having enough cash and a suitable environment so that I can be mostly independent. Like the fire plan, I am basically in good shape – but not really on top of it. My geriatric plan is barely a passing grade.
What about 10-20 or 30 years down the road? I should begin to have a geriatric plan – at least a rough draft. What about nutrition? Medication? Household needs like laundry, shopping & cooking? Hygiene? What happens if my memory fades? Who is in charge of my legal matters? Paying the bills on time? Overlooking my driving ability? Who will help me get to my appointments or advocate for my well-being? Who will help me adapt my home to current needs? How will I stay social?
Like the fire emergency plan, the geriatric plan is a prudent endeavor. It’s pennies now instead of dollars later; it’s hours now instead of days or months later. It’s being ready or just hoping.
I’ll do both – the fire and the geriatric plan. The fire plan will go quick –sit down with the whole family, map it out, run a drill and correct any shortcomings. The geriatric plan won’t take that long either. What there is to do right now is have a financial plan: look at future needs and plan how to have enough.
"Old age is like everything else; to make a success of it, you’ve got to start young."
Konrad Kaletsch, CAPS
June 25, 2009
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