Aging in place is a situation most of us find ourselves encountering throughout life wherever we happen to be living at the time – and a powerful strategy by the same name of effectively dealing with our living environment as we reside there. Given nothing proactive or intentional to the contrary, aging in place just happens. People wake up a few weeks, months, or even years after moving into their apartment or home and realize that they have not done much to improve how they live there. Their living space either works quite well for them and has since they chose to live there, or it doesn’t measure up but they have adapted and gotten along pretty much the way it was when they moved into it.
We all have birthdays – some of us celebrate them and make a big deal out of making it to another anniversary. We get together with friends, maybe take a special trip or do something that has been on our bucket list, have a nice dinner or party – or both, and maybe receive some nice gifts to commemorate the occasion. Some of just note the passing of another year without much, if any, fanfare or recognition. Some would just as soon not be reminded that they are a year older. Regardless, we had nothing to do with our chronological odometer turning forward one year. It happened without our help or volition.
Aging in place is similar to birthdays in that whether we consciously do anything or not to recognize or accept it, we remain living where we are until we change it, and this constitutes aging in place – for better or worse.
The point is that aging in place can be for the better. There is no reason for it to be anything less. As aging in place professionals, we are charged with helping anyone who accepts our help and counsel to have a more viable, comfortable, accessible, and enjoyable living space for the time they are there. For people who have decided that their current home is going to be their forever home (regardless of their age when they moved into it or how long they have lived there), we will honor their decision and do all we can to allow their home to serve them well indefinitely.
Some people are going to consciously admit or declare to themselves and others that they have found their forever, permanent, for-all-time home that they intend to remain in for the rest of their lives. They don’t want to move from it because they truly love their home, can’t imagine another home that would work as well for them, and they don’t want to be distracted from enjoying the home they have. These are like the people that go all-out for birthdays. They embrace it, look forward to it, and truly want to enjoy it.
They tend to be planners who are looking for ways to make their long-term homes more relevant for their current and projected day-to-day needs. They want to engage us to help them. They understand that their homes, although they love them and want to remain living in them, may not totally accommodate their needs. They also recognize that their needs are subject to change as they age and want their homes to be ready for them to enjoy and function well as the years pass.
Other people are living in their homes and aging in place much more passively – almost defiantly. They are aging but don’t want to admit it or not acknowledge that their homes aren’t keeping up with their needs. They may not have formally admitted that they are in their long-term home, but they likely are since it will take more effort than they are willing to give to search for, find, and move into another home. Therefore, they are aging in place long-term – some by default because they have taken no steps to move on or none to embrace what they have. However, they may not be good candidates for us to help even though their needs definitely are present. We can’t help those who don’t recognize that their homes aren’t serving them well. They are just continuing to live in them and doing the best they can to coexist in their home environments.
As people remain in their homes longer, as people like their homes or at least don’t dislike them, and as those homes may not be keeping up with people’s changing needs due to age-related physical and sensory changes, we have many potential clients that we can serve.