Nevertheless, one typically does not go out to find an aging in place home that already exists – how can it? – but merely takes an existing home that someone already likes and enjoys and enhances it. True, someone can look for a home that is attractive, comfortable for their current needs, and easy to navigate. It might be strongly visitable.
But that’s for people who get a different home. What about all of those who remain where they are. After all, this is the premise of aging in place – allowing people to age gracefully and effectively where they are and not moving into a new, ready-made, ideal home that may or may not be to their liking but certainly is not something that they have been living in and one in which they want to remain.
There really are three concepts here that are being confused: (1) universal design of any residential dwelling to make it the most accessible in an unobtrusive way to nearly anyone who would visit or choose to live in it, (2) finding a home that was relatively complete in providing accessibility and freedom of movement within the home already existing that someone could elect to move into when they found their current home no longer to their liking (whatever their current age or ability might be), and (3) modifying an existing home to allow the occupants to have a safer, more comfortable, more enjoyable, and more easily accessed dwelling without the need to move or do anything differently than allow some improvements to be made.
Our role then, as aging in place professionals, is not to be on the lookout for and help people find their ideal dwelling that already meets all of their existing and perceived future needs – a very tall, if not impossible, task – but to help them remain in their current homes more viably and effectively. Most of us are not real estate agents that could help someone find another home anyway, but that is not the point.
The real issue is what aging in place is all about. It is not about moving – unless a move into a more suitable home (for any number of valid reasons) has already been decided. It is about helping people deal with their current homes in a more effective way. Aging in place focuses on keeping people in their present home and allowing them to remain living there over time.
Therefore, there is no prototype or ideal aging in place home to look for and find. We have already found them. They exist where people already are living. Now, it is up to us to help those people, who require some modifications to make their homes more serviceable and functional for them, to help them accomplish this.
Some people will choose to do nothing with their present home even though to us it seems like something should be done. Others will have the budget and the capacity to heed our recommendations and allow us to help them improve their homes.