What seems like a lifetime ago in high school, I had a dream of being an architect after taking a class in interior design. The final project in that class led to creation of our dream home, including a floor plan and design. In a time of life full of hopes and dreams, designing your future home was exciting yet seemed so out of reach as a high school student. As I worked to forge my path in life, I was lead to new career opportunities and my days of architecture were left behind.
Over twenty years later, I have dedicated myself to a career that I love each and every day. Occupational Therapy has brought more to my life than I could have ever imagined. I have had the opportunity to work with people of all ages and abilities during the best and worst times of their lives. I have had the opportunity to find ‘possible’ in seemingly ‘impossible’ situations with my patients. I have learned from the people who were brought into my life to be my patients. Most of all, I have learned that home is truly where people are the happiest and perform the best. About 15 years ago, I attended a class on aging in place. At the time, this was really a futuristic idea in healthcare but was very intriguing to me. As the years passed, I frequently reflected on that course as I completed countless home visits with my patients. No matter the situation that brought the individual to my caseload, one thing was always the same. Not one of my patients ever planned to be in therapy, in the nursing home, or in the hospital dealing with complications. Often times, what seemed like a simple and straightforward procedure brought unknown complications and challenges. In the most stressful days of their lives, the message was the same from every patient….’I just want to get home’. This would frequently prove to be the most difficult challenge when the home, whether old or new, was not built to be accessible.
The reality of going home after illness, injury or surgery is a complex situation. Solutions 4 Home was founded in response to some of those complexities that cannot be met by the therapist who is treating the patient. As a treating therapist, my focus has to stay on the patient and matching their needs to the environment. The piece that is always missing is working to match the environment to the patient, which goes well beyond a grab bar and a shower chair.
The gaps in healthcare related to home going have become my primary mission as a business owner. My love of architecture in high school has been wrapped into my career in a way I could have never imagined at 16 years old. My goal is to ensure homes are built to be supportive in aging, remodeling projects are planned to manage the demands of aging, and individuals facing new disabilities have support in planning for their successful home going. My experience in physical disabilities and long term care provides customers with the knowledge and skills necessary to best match their goals to successful aging.
Amy Evenstad- Occupational Therapist/ECHM-HOMES (Executive Certificate in Home Modification)/CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist)