Aging in place is as much a commitment or lifestyle choice as it is a strategy for making a home easy to occupy and enjoy. Some homes are easier to live in long-term as we age in place than others, but those that aren’t as accommodating can be fixed to an extent. The short answer to the question of whether it’s hard to live in a home that we like occupying as we age in place is that it is not that hard.
Everyone is different so we are going to find some people with very little difficulty in maintaining the daily schedule and regimen that they have for years. They may have slowed a step or to in their pace, their vision or hearing may have been affected a little, and they may have other changes in their physical, sensory, or even cognitive nature, but they don’t seem to mind, and the casual observer does not even perceive a change.
Coming and going, using the stairs to enter their home or going between floors is not an issue for them. This may not be as easy as it was a few years ago, but they can still manage this and it presents no real issues for them.
Other people are going to have a more pronounced or evident change in their abilities. They are going to be less able to climb steps easily – their arthritis affects how they use their hands and legs (and possibly their backs, shoulders, or necks, depending on where the arthritis is located and how severe it is),
Some people are going to have more severe limitations brought on by their diabetes, vision or hearing deterioration, balance issues, or how the ambulate in their home. They may require the assistance of a cane or walker much or all of the time when this wasn’t the case earlier. However, some may have depended on this assistance for years.
There are cases when the current home just is not very accommodating for someone, but even with vision weakness or dependence on mobility devices to get around (including wheelchairs), many people have lived in their homes for so long that they know how to adapt to their changing conditions. They may not be able to get full utilization out of their home – using the top shelves of upper cabinets of the bottom shelves of base cabinets or being able to open their windows, for instance – but they can still live effectively in their homes.
If nothing was done to a person’s home to assist them in dealing with changes to their abilities brought on by age, they still will be able to use their home to an extent. For changes brought on by disease or injury, it may be more challenging. Nevertheless, people are remaining in their homes and making the most of it, even without our help. Could it be better for them if we helped? Of course, but not everyone is going to know about our ability to help them, and they may just make the most of their lifestyle on their own.
The point is that people have been and will continue to live in their homes, even when those homes may not be ideal for their needs, because they have gotten used to living in those homes, they are familiar with their layout (even their shortcomings for them), they really don’t have the resources to consider moving or to have many improvements done for them without outside funding sources being identified and made available to them, and they may not want outsiders (such as us) coming into their homes to offer assistance even though it would be beneficial.
Essentially aging in place in a home that people like and want to remain in requires nothing more than just continuing to live in it. This may be a conscious decision that they make after a review and consideration of their options (such as moving someplace else), or it may be a quiet decision that is never really made definitively – they just keep living there with no plans or motivation for moving or changing what they have.
As to whether someone’s home fully or mostly accommodates their needs as they age, the same holds true, They may consciously come to the conclusion that they need some help and welcome an aging in place renovation team coming into their home to help them to create solutions to make their lives easier. Conversely, some people are going to be adverse to have anyone come into their home even though they can create solutions to enhance their remaining years. Nevertheless, when people enjoy their homes or want to continue living in them – even when they aren’t ideal by our standards – most of them can do so.