We don’t have to look very far or hard to learn why people want to remain living in their homes long-term, particularly as they are getting older but really at any age. No survey or extensive research is required. There are several readily apparent reasons. Let’s start with convenience and comfort.
Like a broken-in piece of clothing that has a real comfort factor, people get to feel this way about their homes also. There is a slowness to change and give up what they have been enjoying – just like getting rid of something that is wearing out but quite familiar and gives them a good feeling to use. They really can’t see themselves saying goodbye to an old friend and beginning the process of replacing it – whatever it is.
With their current homes, people are likely going to have certain things they don’t care for or that they would like to change. This is a natural feeling. Actually, most people, if asked, would say that they would like to change something about their homes, even if they never do. It seems to be a popular pastime – talking about or complaining about things that aren’t quite right with their current home. This usually is just talk or wishful thinking about what could be, but many people would rather just talk about what should or could be done rather than do anything about it. This is one reason that people watch the home improvement shows on television or go home shopping on weekends to look at model homes.
Even though people are still purchasing homes and moving, the majority of people enjoy what they have and to remain living there. This tendency increases along with age. People get set in their ways, are used to what they have, and generally want to remain where they are because they are not interested in moving somewhere else.
They also consider the familiarity they have with their current home and neighborhood, although they may not label it precisely in these terms. Still, they opt to remain living where they are and forgo the need to learn a whole new routine at a new address or deal with the stress and potential emotional trauma that comes with moving and adapting to a new living environment.
Familiarity is revealed to people through their current home itself, in the yard that surrounds around their home (however large or small it is and whatever activities they enjoy doing there), in the neighborhood immediately surrounding their home (where they know people they see on a regular basis, by sight if not by name, and where they can walk without being concerned about stray dogs or other nuisances), and in the services immediately available within walking distance or a short drive or bus ride from their home.
When people wake up in the middle of the night in a home they are quite familiar with from having lived there for a period of time – to visit the bathroom or get a glass of water, for instance – it’s nice for them to know that they don’t have to figure out where they are or turn on all of the lights just to find their way. They just walk the familiar route they have been taking for years – even doing it in low light or no light – provided their path doesn’t include any with obstacles.
People generally know where things are in their homes without consciously thinking about it. They can go to the kitchen and open any drawer or cabinet and know what’s inside – unless they recently rearranged items. They have a favorite place to sit to read or watch TV, and they know how to navigate their homes without even thinking about it. If it turns cool or begins to rain, they know where to find the items needed to put on to be comfortable – inside or out. They know where the tools are to tighten a screw, hammer a nail, trim the hedge, or cut the grass – if they are still doing any of this type of home maintenance.
Remaining in their current homes because of familiarity provides dozens of advantages over moving and learning a routine all over again – and explains why people seek aging in place. They are experienced in their current homes and find that they provide much of comfort, safety, security, and peace-of-mind.