One of the fundamental concepts of aging in place is allowing people to continue living at home for as long as they desire – indefinitely actually. It’s why we as aging-in-place professionals derive such satisfaction and work so hard to help them create solutions that allow people to modify their homes and accomplish their desire to remain in their homes.
“Home” is such a great and powerful word. with great meanings for all of us. Builders design and construct homes for people. They may initially refer to them as houses, but they quickly become homes – places where people spend a portion of their lives, creating life experiences and memories.
When people go away from home for a period of time – from a business trip out of town to a vacation (or even a hospital stay) – they always look forward to returning home. It’s personal – whether people own or rent and regardless the size of it from a studio apartment to a several room, multi-story estate. It’s where people can be themselves and shut out the outside world.
People get to decorate and personalize their homes to their liking and make it just the way they want it. Regardless of how long they might live in a particular place, it’s home to them for that period of time, and they do all they can to put their personal touch on it – including paint, flooring, furnishings, and accessories. Even when people are living in college dorm rooms, it’s home for them while they are there. Posters, furniture, and items from home help to transform it into something that is truly them – to the extent possible.
Over a lifetime. people might move from place-to-place – whether within the same town or city or not and whether or not it involves rental or condominium apartments, townhomes, or single family homes. Each time people change where they live, that new location becomes their home, and they do everything to make it as comfortable and as safe to live in as possible. It’s their little corner of the world where they can go and feel totally in control – their retreat.
At some point in that journey of moving from place-to-place, people may identify a home that just feels right – to the point of never wanting to move from it or look for any other place to live. It offers everything they want in a place to live in terms of what they pay to live there, the general layout and features, size, location, neighborhood, scenery, and other attributes that make it an ideal home.
People’s situations may change over time with the addition of family members to the household or when children grow and move out to start their own housing odyssey. Physical requirements might change as people become less able to accomplish some of the tasks that once were fairly simple to do – going up and down steps, opening doors, and operating faucets and appliances, for instance. As we age, we require more light and better lighting to see and read. Other mobility and sensory adjustments become necessary as well, whether it’s just a matter or age or a physical limitation.
Helping people continue to live in their homes and showing them how those homes can be adapted to accommodate their current needs is a very rewarding aspect of being in the business we are as aging in place professionals. The concept of “home” and remaining at home is extremely powerful to people – even when it might not be everything they want it to be in terms of its condition or appearance. We hold the key to helping people live well in their homes regardless of what or how much needs to be done to achieve a higher degree of safety, comfort, convenience, or accessibility for them in their homes.