Denial About Aging

Many older people don't want to admit ther getting older, so try getting these subtle techniques into projects.

June 30, 2001

A new report from AARP says that 69% of older parents and 75% of their adult children think about the parents’ ability to live independently as they age. About two-thirds of those surveyed say they have discussed such issues with their counterparts. However, adult children (54%) are twice as likely as their parents (27%) to think the parents will eventually need help.

Bob Black of Access of Sarasota (Fla.) says such lack of acknowledgment of possible future disability is very common. "Many older people don’t want to admit they’re getting older," he says. "They don’t want remodeling that looks like it’s for 'old people.'"

As a result, Black uses subtle techniques and products, such as wider doorways, nonslip tile and lever door handles, in his projects. "We recommend many products like these as part of the design instead of just safety issues. It’s much easier for people to accept. Even if they have no disability now, their homes will be ready if they have problems later."

The report, Can We Talk? Families Discuss Older Parents’ Ability to Live Independently ... or Do They?, is available through AARP. An executive summary is posted at http://research.aarp.org/il/ind_liv_1.html.

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