Shaping a life-style of independence. Abilities, aging, and environmental design

LG Hiatt
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What makes our own aging so interesting and predictions about normative aging profiles so difficult is that there are many different capacities that may be altered. The composite pattern of strengths and needs and of the degree of need has yet to be described. This makes predictions about what people can or could do difficult. Each individual represents a mosaic of capacity and loss resulting from the impact of capacities such as vision, hearing, response time, posture, gait, energy level, and even recall and the demands placed upon them by their individual circumstances, life-styles, and environments. A person with major memory loss and tremendous energy may be different from one who experiences slight losses in vision, hearing, mobility, agility, and a crystal clear memory. Their behavioral changes may be more evident in strange environments than in familiar ones. This mosaic of capabilities and needs makes traditional interventions that are focused on a singular disability or major diagnostic conditions difficult. Traditional rehabilitation methods need to be adapted to grapple with the diversity of older people functioning in a community. Adaptations in our understanding of people, activities, and environments will put us in a better position to facilitate the normal interactions of older people in senior centers and, importantly, in public intergenerational settings. Older people have not been well served by services, programs, and legislation that have focused on single disabilities or devices.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)