Contrary to what the term may sound like, the concept of aging-in-place (even though it uses the word aging) has nothing to do with someone’s age – more specifically, the attainment of any certain age or station in life.
On someone’s 30th, 35th, 40th, 50th, 55th, 60th, 65th, or 70th birthday, for instance (or any other milestone they might be observing or celebrating), they don’t receive word from anyone that they suddenly have become part of the aging in place group. Neither do they receive notification that they are approaching or about to enter this market segment.
Even though aging in place design strategies and concepts can apply to any of theses milestone ages (and any age in between them or even later), it is not an age-related approach. It involves getting older but not being older. This is a key distinction.
The whole idea of aging in place centers on someone (regardless of their current age or any other physical characteristics or abilities) either (1) finding a place that they like living in with the general desire to remain living there because they think it meets their needs and likely will continue to do, or (2) just remaining in their present home whether that was their original intent or not.
People will evaluate their home or consider it in terms of how safe it might be in preventing injuries and discomfort, whether it is accessible enough for them to enter easily and navigate throughout their home without issue, the general comfort level it offers for them to live in and use the features and fixtures of the home without challenge, and how convenient it seems for them to be able to enjoy using their home without being confronted with frequent obstacles. They also want to know that their home can continue to meet these tests over time – as they live in and necessarily grow older in the home.
More than anything, people want to be assured that their home is not going to fight with them or create unpleasant issues for them. They want their home to be comfortable and enjoyable.
Think of it as the home and the occupants growing old together. The home needs to be able to meet all of the challenges that life may bring from a physical standpoint (including minor aches and pains to more serious limitations) – regardless of someone’s age, general level of health, or physical size or abilities.
When someone’s home is not up to the challenge of allowing them to live in it comfortably, functionally, and effectively as they grow older, then it’s up to us to identify this situation, step in, and offer our expertise to alleviate the concerns and provide a home that meets their needs and serves them well.