There is a lot of the discussion on aging-in-place, and much of it involves planning for some future eventuality or getting ready for it. However, it’s here and now – for nearly everyone – even if we weren’t looking for it or ready for it. It is not some future event that needs to be taken into account or factored in but a current, viable strategy for living life now.
Everyone is aging-in-place – to various degrees – where they are. Many do not need any special home modifications to accommodate their current physical needs, but that is subject to change as life happens.
Aging in place is not age- or event-driven. It begins in infancy and continues throughout life. Sometimes we have control of our environment. Sometimes others such as parents, a growing family, or caregivers take that responsibility or influence it. Attaining a specific benchmark age such as 30, 40, 50, or 65 may cause us to reflect on our lives and how we have gotten to where we are, but it doesn’t define or change anything. Similarly, a broken bone or other type of injury may affect our mobility or sensory perception, but that event doesn’t make us into something we weren’t already.
We all are going through various stages of life and aging in that particular interval where we are – a few days, years, or even decades. Often, someone will rent an apartment – just on a trial basis or short-term. Then they like the location and the rent. Turn around, and it’s a few years later. Someone starts a job right out of high school or college. They don’t plan on staying there very long, and they may even grumble about it frequently. However, turn the clock ahead and they are looking at their retirement from that same company.
Things happen. Life happens. Not always as we planned. That’s what aging-in-place is all about – making the best of where we are living at any given phase of our life.
Wherever we are residing in our current stage of life – for a few months or year to considerably longer – we need to help ensure that our habitat provides a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment. It needs to be as accessible to us as possible given our ability or willingness to change it and budgetary constraints. The same applies to all of the clients and potential clients we serve and will meet in coming months.
Few people would admit to wanting to live their lives in dwellings that were uncomfortable and unfriendly to their basic movements. Many are faced with this situation, but few would volunteer for this to happen. As aging in place professionals, our challenge is to help people – no matter what age they are, how able-bodied they are, or where they are on the continuum of life – live in their homes as safely, comfortably, and successfully as possible.
There is so much that we can do in assessing and recommending layout changes, minor improvements, more storage and organization, or fairly major modifications to meet the needs of people where they are now and the direction their needs might be moving.
Young, old, renters, owners, fully able, or physically challenged can all benefits from enjoying a more comfortable and safe dwelling space that we can be instrumental in creating for and with them.
Aging in place deals with where we are at the moment.