The idea of aging in place – because it includes a reference to aging in the name – might seem to be related to someone’s age attainment. Before reaching a certain age threshold or qualifying age, a person would not be eligible to age in place or not considered part of the aging in place segment. Fortunately, this is not true.
We have enough major life events for which there are minimum or maximum ages for participating or being allowed as a member. We can’t start school before reaching a certain age, and once we start can’t before a certain age either. We have to be a certain age to get a driver’s license (typically 16) although we can get a learner’s permit earlier. We have to be 18 to be able to register to vote. We can’t run for elective office until a certain age (that varies by the office and the jurisdiction). We generally have to take Medicare insurance at age 65 and used to be able to retire then, but that age is increasing. There are communities for adults age 55 and over and even some for those age 62 and over.
There are maximum ages for children’s discounts (often 12 and under) although sometimes it is much younger than this. There also are senior discounts for retail, entertainment, dining, haircuts, travel, and other purchases at various age thresholds (usually starting at age 55) depending on the establishment and the location.
The point is that many things we do in life have rules about how old we need to be to do them or how young we must be to still qualify for them. Aging in place is not one of them. There is no such thing as being too young or too old or being required to wait a year or two (or longer) until reaching that magic program age or learning that we just missed the target age limit on our last birthday (even if it was yesterday). There literally is no age requirement to age in place, and people are doing it throughout life. In fact, aging in place, as a concept, begins at birth and lasts a lifetime.
Aging in place is not limited to where we are living until we find that forever or long-term home where we want to remain. Until that time, or as children living with our parents when we have no say in the matter, aging in place concepts are still applicable to us without needing to qualify for them.
The whole idea of aging in place revolves around having a dwelling that provides a safe, comfortable, accessible, and convenient living space for everyone in the home, whether it is one person, a couple, a family with children, or a family with elderly parents present also.
It addresses their specific needs for mobility (movement within the home) including the provision of assistive or adaptive devices or techniques for those who require them. It provides for their sensory needs, especially as they may have been affected by an accident, illness, or the aging process. If there are cognitive changes or anything resulting from a traumatic injury, these are addressed as well. This is why aging in place covers a lifetime without regard for a person’s current age or their needing to be a certain age to qualify.
A home designed with an aging in place emphasis is going to be safe enough to prevent injuries and discomfort, accessible enough for them to enter easily and navigate about without issue, comfortable enough for them to live in and use the features and fixtures of the home without challenge, and convenient enough for them to them to enjoy using their home without being confronted with frequent obstacles – and to have that home continue to meet these tests year-after-age as they live in and necessarily grow older in the home.
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 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.
Nevertheless, being of a certain age is not a prerequisite for us to provide effective aging in place strategies, solutions, and support.