We hear and see a lot of discussion about the need for housing our aging population and providing suitable living units for them, yet most already have a home they are living in now. Therefore, they really don’t need to go and find other space to move into and add more stress and disruption to their lives – as well as the potential additional expense that moving often entails.
In the national debate over providing additional homes for seniors and what it might take to design and outfit an aging population with suitable living space, the basic premise of aging in place has been sidestepped. The whole idea of aging in place is that people get – by their choice – to remain living where they are right now. True, some homes may not meet the current or diagnosed needs of some people. That’s why we have remodeling services available.
Aging in place does not mean finding another home – assisted living or any other type of group setting managed care or independent living on a campus. While some people choose to exercise this option for themselves, this is not aging in place. This really is no different than a person at any younger age looking for another apartment to rent or shopping for a different hom to buy and occupy. When such a move is completed, people will then begin aging in place in that new home, but that move is a choice, and there are other options available for them.
When people begin reaching their seventies and beyond, moving is not the pleasant adventure it could have been at an earlier time – if it ever was fun. It is highly stressful. Consider the process. First, the determination is made that the current dwelling (home, apartment, mobile home, condominium, living with relatives, a residential hotel, or any other type of accommodations that are owned or rented) is no longer desirable on a going-forward basis. That decision may be made without considering all of the options, or it may be well-researched. Nevertheless, it is the first step in a long and stressful process.
Whether someone has decided that the steps or stairs leading into their home that they must use each time they leave or enter their dwelling, or the interior steps that take them from one level in their home to another, are too much for them to contend with, or that there are other fairly substantial issues confronting them, they decide that either their home cannot be modified (usually not true although potentially quite expensive to do so) or that they don’t want to attempt it.
It could be hallways, bedroom space, kitchen layout, the size or configuration of their bathrooms (or the number of them), flooring, lighting, storage (closets, for instance), or other elements of their home that they aren’t happy with currently. Again, most everything can be modified and renovated – for a price, yes, but doable.
Then, after someone reaches that momentous decision that they are moving, they must begin getting their household contents ready to move. For people in the seventies and older, this typically means a tremendous amount of boxed memories, mementos, and souvenirs. They are going to be trunks, boxes, bins, and other storage containers stored here and there currently. The key takeaway here is keeping all of it, ridding themselves of most of it, or selectively going through all of it and deciding what stays or goes. Definitely moving all of this stuff is going to be an issue -just in the emotional impact and time to look at, consider, or agree to part with some, most, or all of these memories.
Depending on what type of another dwelling they end up selecting and its size (and interior space and configuration) and what they may be allowed to keep according to any rules or regulations existing in that new location, keeping all of their home furnishings may not work wither. Of course, this is the perfect time to buy new furniture – but adding more expense to this venture. Maybe they can find a furnished home to move into.
There are so many more considerations – affordability, moving costs, transaction fees, real estate agent fees, packing and moving all of their personal property, and the emotional stress (often long-term or never really removed) that seems to be attached to the process of finding and moving into another dwelling,
Back to aging in place – the concept of remaining where we are and making the most of it – in an emotional and physical sense. If it is not what we want, it can be changed. As far as being able to afford it, people often have many more resources than they are aware of existing for them. The main point is that no disruption in our lives needs to happen. We don’t need to introduce any such stress. Remodeling can bring its own anxiety and disruption, but this is quite brief and it’s still our home when the work is done.
Aging in place is the answer to providing housing for an aging population – making better use of what people already have.