Aging in place is a very interesting concept – one that happens to all of us whether we are ready for it or even acknowledge it. The fact is that all of age in place throughout our lifetimes wherever we happen to be living at the time. Some of us have physical needs that must be addressed, and some do not. This also is subject to change over time.
At younger ages, people have options of continuing to live where they are – whether they own, rent, or live with family members – or of eventually looking for and finding another place to live. At some point, they decide that they like where they are living and have no real desire to change. This becomes their permanent or forever home. These are who we think of when we speak about aging in place.
Sometimes this sneaks up on people as they get older. They possibly didn’t plan for a forever home or think that much about until they realized that it had happened. One day, they came to the conclusion that they attained an age that seemed far off years earlier and now occupy a home that maybe they didn’t plan on still being in or knowing that they still could be. Now they are thinking of how to make the best out of their remaining years.
It’s true that we can feel unprepared for where we think we will be later in life, but that can be said of various other life stages before they happen 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 close our eyes, so to speak, and 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, attain, or surpass traditional retirement age, they may wonder what they need to do to get ready to age in place successfully. 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 ensure that our homes are safe, convenient, comfortable, accessible, and enjoyable. At some point along the way (recently or long ago) 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.