Prolong your LIFE – The A.I.P. Balance of “Use It or Lose It”!

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I read a bright and concise blog this week by Dr. Patrick Roden, titled The Up-Side Risk of Aging in Place.  As a PhD in Gerentology, a registered nurse, and also CEO of (a domain he was forward-thinking enough to have purchased 14 years ago!), he’s well versed in the topic and a thought leader in this industry space.  He used some big words like “biomedicalization”, “infantilizing”, “paternalistically”, and the term Environmental Press.  Normally I’d be a bit overwhelmed by this level of vocabulary, as it’s in a medical field which isn’t in my comfort zone.

Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Roden at length more than once, so I have a feel for how his brilliant mind works.  It’s also why we are so honored and blessed that he’s asked us to join him, along with another amazing thought leader in Mr. Louis Tenenbaum, on stage to make a presentation in Chicago this year at the ASA national 2013 conference from March 12-16th.  We couldn’t be more flattered and honored to do so.

I love this concept and awareness of “Environmental Press” (E.P.) in the context of Aging In Place, and it will be the angle Dr. Roden takes on his 1/3 of our joint 90 minute workshop presentation in 6 weeks.

So what does E.P. mean?  I think to put it concisely in our own terms, it’s applying the idea of “Use it or Lose It” related to mind and body, while also recognizing that Aging In Place is a balancing act between safety and security, coupled with independence and staying active in mind and body.  We would also argue that it’s a client driven and specific solution for each person and their specific living situation and mental/physical condition, along with their own specific wants, needs, and rights!

In another blog on the topic, they state, “These traditional “burdens of home ownership” that many seek to avoid, are really forms of what’s called Environmental Press (EP), or forces in the environment that together with individual need evoke a response.

But according to the environmental press theory (developed by Lawton & Nahemow in 1973), these traditional “burdens” of home ownership may actually serve as support for one’s physical and emotional health. Environmental press suggests that meeting the challenges of living at home can preserve brain function. Furthermore, home is a place where memories have been made and routines have been established. Its familiarity gives people the ability to control and enjoy their experiences.”

So what’s to be learned from this concept?  By “forcing” ourselves to stay home owners, and tackle the basic daily tasks related to such a responsibility, we are actually prolonging our physical and mental life and longevity!  Great, yet another positive reason for why we preach Aging-In-Place as our first choice (as up to 89% of those AARP has polled suggested they want as well).  Of course there will come a time in everyone’s life when it’s likely that full time care in a facility becomes a reality.  But it appears from research, there is a very real risk that moving to a facility too early can be a decision to take on a lifestyle that is “overly catered” and “too safe”, which can result in early and more rapid deterioration in our physical and mental faculties.  We’ve personally sat with so many people who have their own story which proves this concept, in our own client and professional industry interactions every day. So why NOT strive for PRO-ACTIVE Aging In Place?


Especially when you consider that we are all instinctually and subconsciously aware:

1) It’s where we want to be and prefer to stay as long as possible.

2) It’s where our things are, our family is comfortable, and our memories are.

3) It’s where we feel most INDEPENDENT, and not a burden on others / anyone.

4) It’s where we feel most EMPOWERED.

5) It’s where we feel most free to make our own decisions on when and how we do things in our daily life (not true in a facility setting) and “ADL’s” (Activities of Daily Living, as the Occupational Therapist and related industries term this).

As a CAPS “Certified Aging In Place Specialist”, and also a licensed Architect with over 1 million square feet of commercial projects under our belts (which in buildings that serve the public, are inherently by code required to be “accessible for all”), we have a special set of skills that allow us to design your home for just that – Successful Aging In Place.  We are passionate about helping people, sharing this information with our community and the public at every chance we get.

We’ve also more recently been asked to speak to city councils and mayors, as well as city and urban planners  We’ve been asked to provide input and direction for our towns and neighborhoods related to possible adjustments to the zoning codes and how best to provide incentives to builders & developers that would offer them an opportunity to help plan for the “Silver Tsunami” in a pro-active fashion, setting themselves apart as builders and jurisdictions by being able to market “adaptable” homes for future buyers & occupants that would be the most flexible for the most potential clients (home buyers, people moving to the area and looking for a city that considers their needs, etc.)  We’ve explained to these groups and other professional associations we’ve spoken to, that if you want to be “in front of the curve”, you need to recognize that the shear massiveness of the numbers in the Baby Boomer sector (76 million of them), along with their unique position of “net worth” (I’ve heard it stated as 5x the national average of our population as a whole – many stats in the links above), this group has the mass and the buying power as a consumer sector to DRIVE the direction of HOUSING SOLUTIONS in the next 20-30 years!

We are working hard at being a part of leading the way and staying ahead of the “wave” that this Silver Tsunami is bringing ashore in the U.S. and abroad here at Empowering The Mature Mind and ADM Architecture.  Are you adjusting to it in your business and industry?  If not, you’d better start.


Oh, and as for Dr. Roden’s “expansive vocabulary”, read on for definitions of terms…

biomedicalization – Where the elderly are treated as a disease category to be cared for (paternalistically) by “experts.” (not found at, so I’ve opted to quote Dr. Roden on this one).
infantilizing – To keep in or reduce to an infantile state.  To treat or regard as infantile or immature.  
The idea of taking older people and turning them into “children” again, and to again quote Dr. Roden, ” ‘patients’ to be subjected to over-protection as if we are parenting them obsessively. The elderly are not seen in this action as capable of human development and/or growth. The unstated here is that the end of the life cycle is not worth risking for potential upside benefits.”
paternalistically – The system, principle, or practice of managing or governing individuals, (businesses, nations, etc.), in the manner of a parent dealing benevolently and often intrusively with a child.  

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