Fail to Plan for “Aging In Place”? Then plan to FAIL.

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

I met with my personal business coach on Wednesday morning this week.  In our 90 minute session, we wrapped up discussions about time tracking and take-aways / lessons learned, discussed the EtMM message theme, and business model / structure, among other topics both professional and personal.  I hired this coach for his reputation in the industry, and to ensure success and balance in my own life and business endeavors.

Leaving his dining room table and walking out onto his front porch, he made an interesting comment.  As I approached the top step of about 8 stairs heading down to the concrete path leading to their driveway, he pointed at the textured asphalt strips that had been tacked on the worn out wood stairs with their paint peeling back.  He stated “I don’t know why I didn’t think of talking to you, especially after you gave your presentation on ‘Aging In Place’ at Rotary last year.  I think my mom had just moved into our house a few weeks before you spoke”.

OUCH.  That HURT to hear – “I didn’t think of you.”  My head was spinning with concerning and frustrated thoughts about how often I now speak publicly on the topic in western Washington state, and how much I share my passion with everyone I meet that asks what I do.  “How could someone I’ve known in Rotary for FOUR YEARS, that sees me every single week, not THINK OF ME!?”  I was bothered by it.  Now admittedly, that particular speech was my first one.  I was nervous because it was the first time, and because I knew everyone in the room very well, and I cared about them and what they thought of me (in hindsight I shouldn’t have used my local club for my first speaking engagement… lesson learned).

He went on to say that after his (80-something year old) mother moved into his home, he’d discussed a solution for the stairs with a local commercial contractor he’s friends with (EtMM would argue both those words should have been clues, “commercial” and “contractor”, as red flags that it wasn’t the right person to be talking to), but in the end they didn’t end up incorporating any of the G.C.’s recommendations at their house.  I’m not surprised, as they probably weren’t providing the right advice to their client, my business coach, about how his mom could move in and have the most successful experience for both his family and his mother in their home.

I go to his home once a week for our business coaching appointment.  Every week as I climb those stairs to the front door, I think about what could have been for them, had he “know then” as he put it.  I still see a multitude of ways that he could modify his home (simple low costs ways, and more significant longer term solutions as well), and my stomach turns a bit… for his mother, thinking about her navigating the existing home, mostly un-addressed as it relates to her now, and how her needs may… no WILL change in the years ahead.

Things have changed significantly for EtMM since that first speech over 2.5 years ago in our role as an “Aging In Place” consultant & expert.  EtMM has been actively spreading the word about what AIP is, and how we can help people stay in their homes if that’s the right solution for the specific client.  We have been asked by others in the industry to contribute articles to their publications, papers, & magazines.  We have interviewed experts and been interviewed by thought leaders in the industry from across the nation.  We have started co-hosting a radio show in Seattle on 1150am KKNW called “Encore Living” RADIO, and EtMM was asked to make our presentation on the national stage in Chicago in the spring at the ASA “Aging In America” conference, full of other national though leaders and industry experts.

I’ll preface this with a “please”, even though I don’t want to, as I’m tired of hearing the excuses that cause the emergencies… BUT…  PLEASE, don’t use that petty “I wish I’d known” story, or that “hindsight is 20/20” pitch with me.  That argument is only valid (and it’s still a weak excuse when it comes to caring enough about your family) once you’ve made the mistake of waiting too long, leaving your head in the sand, saying “I (or “mom / dad”) will never be ‘one of them'” and “I / they won’t become a statistic”, refusing to admit that we are all getting older and YES that INCLUDES YOU, and your folks.  Now you are in panic mode, not planning mode.  Good luck making smart, thought out, well planned, cost effective, un-emotional, short and long term decisions in this state you’ve now found yourself in.  It won’t happen.

Can you still call me?  Of course.  Will I say “I told you so”?  Probably not, but I’ll feel sorry for you if you chose to ignore the reality we all face until it’s TOO LATE to do the right thing, right now.  BUT I WILL HELP, I can promise you that, because I CARE…

OR… JUST MAYBE… you could PLAN AHEAD???  I don’t hold my breath, but I continue to have hope – That’s probably just me, and my own optimistic personality… 🙂

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