When we think about the risks of ageing our first thoughts go to the fear of having a fall. We have all heard of a relative or friend who was independent and healthy until they tripped and damaged a knee, a hip, or bashed their head.
The next thing we know they are in an aged care facility.
Why do people have falls in the first place? Invariably it's because there are little traps around the house or garden that trip people up, especially as we get older and lose our flexibility and speed of muscle response.
So the family home in which we have enjoyed living for many, many years has become a dangerous place. That's why village design was among the most important reasons for people to sell the family home and join a retirement village - according to our McCrindle Baynes 2011 village census of 10,600 people.
Our research shows that quality and design of a retirement village is extremely important. That's the way a village and your home has been specially designed with no steps, wider corridors, bigger bathrooms and showers with frames that could be removed. Benches are at special heights, garages have easy access. They're all designed to minimise the risk of taking a tumble.
This freedom to move also gives you an increased sense of independence and allows you to stay independent longer. Why do I say this?
In a village you stay independent because you can move around your home and environment more safely. This compares with the family home where people start restricting themselves to smaller areas of the house or garden, and even whether they venture down to the bus stop or the local shops.
If this is you then you are losing your independence and in fact becoming a prisoner of your own home.
Many will say they can have their family home redesigned to make it safer. This is true but the cost can be considerable and ongoing as you become more frail with age. Plus you can’t redesign the trip to the shops.
So when developing your plan for the next steps in life think about your physical environment and its impact on your independence.
Remember, the key objective is to age well.