As aging in place professionals, we seek out people we can work with who want to live in their current homes without needing to move from them as the years go by. They may or may not have any limiting conditions that currently are being met by those homes. That really isn’t the point. We want to offer them the opportunity to remain living independently where they are now, regardless of their current abilities or how those abilities might change over time.
Contrast that with people who either continue to live where they are but without taking any steps to improve their current home or enhance their quality of life, as well as those who move to a retirement center or nursing home. They are aging – in place, which is to say growing older where they are living. However, aging, in place (meaning where they are) by default is quite different from aging-in-place constructively.
The former is just letting life happen and dealing with it as best as they can. There could be coping with an existing situation or acceptance involved, or it could mean continuing to live in a home that may not offer the safety, comfort, or convenience that they really should have or desire because they consciously choose to ignore it, or just never focus on it as the years move on. Rather than attacking the issue they face and formulating an acceptable solution that falls within their budget, they resign themselves to continuing to live as they are without making any substantial changes to the physical characteristics of their home, their lifestyle or how well their home accommodates their needs.
Another possibility is that they move in with family or into a retirement facility. They essentially give up their independent lifestyle for one that may or may not offer a better quality of care from what they have had on their own.
Either way, they are choosing – consciously or by default – to age without taking any significant steps to do so in the home they have been enjoying the past several years. Their current situation may not offer them the access, comfort, convenience, safety, or general appeal – inside the home and around the grounds – that they desire or feel they would like to have, but that can be changed – with our help.
People can improve their current homes in a variety of ways to accommodate their needs as they age, and many of these improvements can be rather simple and inexpensive to do. For the larger projects or the ones that are substantially more money, there is a trade-off on being able to remain living in the homes they have grown accustomed to versus pulling up stakes and moving into a new place with a substantially larger financial commitment.
They can make many of the smaller modifications themselves or have family members help them. Of course, we can offer our assistance. The issue is that people can choose to manage their aging-in-place and be thoughtful and proactive about it, or they can just let it happen. For those that desire the former approach, we stand willing to help them.