Aging in place is often seen as something that kind of sneaks up on us as we get older – something that maybe we didn’t plan for or think that much about until it happens. One day, we awake and realize that we are at an age that we weren’t sure we’d attain, in a home that maybe we didn’t plan on still being in or knowing that we would be, and are thinking of how to make the best out of what life we have remaining. That’s part of the aging-in-place story, but just a slice of it.
It’s true that we can be unprepared at where we will find ourselves later in life, but that can be said of various other life stages as well. There are many times in life when we feel unprepared for where we are or where we think life is leading us.
Still. we make a way for ourselves. Unless we just go along for the ride, that is our choice of how to cope with or make the best of where we are at the time.
So, as people near or past traditional retirement age, they may wonder what they need to do to get ready to age-in-place successfully. In fact, is there anything that needs to be done ahead of time that makes transitioning into life in a forever home easier?
The truth is that aging-in-place will happen whether one is prepared for it or not. The key is to make it as easy on ourselves as possible and to actually take a few steps along the way to help insure that our homes are safe, convenient, comfortable, accessible, and enjoyable. At some point we selected that home – few people have been forced to live long-term in a home that they did not select.
Looking at the big picture, people have been getting ready to age in place their entire lives because they have been doing this incrementally wherever they have lived over the years. They stayed a few years in this home, and a few years there. Each time, they made the most of where they were at the time, and if life became too uncomfortable for them in that home they generally moved on to something else more to their liking.
People essentially are experts at aging-in-place because they have been doing it a little at a time over the years. Maybe they moved because the home at the time proved to be unsafe, was too small for a growing family, too large to maintain well or efficiently, or not convenient to where they were working at the time. While they were in that particular home, however, they did what they could to make it work well for themselves and their families.
We could make the argument that people have been getting ready to age in place throughout most of their lives because they have been doing it on a smaller scale. The homes they were in at various times in their lives have been replaced by others. Now, they may find themselves in the home in which they want to remain or one that really doesn’t suggest they need to move from it.
The getting ready is largely over. Now it’s time for the doing – for making aging-in-place in the lifetime or forever home as comfortable, safe, and enjoyable as possible – regardless of any limiting conditions someone may have.