Of course, everyone is aging. There is no denying it or stopping it. Anyone alive is getting older – aging. Everything around us is getting older also – our cars, our homes, our clothes and shoes (until we get new ones or toss the old ones), our furniture (unless we replace it), our home accessories, and anything we are holding onto from the past (keepsakes, photos, mementos, awards, certificates, souvenirs, and other items important to us).
Wherever we are living right now, and if we have been at this location more than a few days, we are technically aging in place. It doesn’t matter if we own or rent, our age, our abilities, and if we live alone or with others.
The true spirit of aging in place is that we get to live indefinitely – as in our forever home – in the home of our choice and we are never required to move from that on the basis of health, ability, or the wishes of influencing family members. With the tremendous advantages in health care delivery systems, the rise in home health applications, and the increasing emphasis on keeping people out of managed care facilities, aging in place has never been more viable.
There definitely is an interest in staying in one’s longtime home and aging in place for the poulation we would deem as seniors – and seniors carries a very loose definition often assigned by the observer and through their eyes and perspective. What seems old to a twenty- or thirty-something may seem relatively young to a fifty- or sixty-year old individual. Even some ninety-year old people feel that they are not old and that others they see (both younger and older than them chronilogocally) are old.
Age is a very fluid subject. Nevertheless, many people think that aging in place is primarily for seniors or for the senior generation. While this may largely be true, Baby Boomers (those mid-fifties to early seventies) seem to be embracing it. In fact, if it weren’t for the large numbers of the Baby Boomers and the characteristics of their generation, the aging in place emphasis would not be as great. Just as they have done throughout their entire lives, the boomers have brought the national consciousness along with them.
Many activities, organizations, and events that are relatively commonplace today had their origin with or for the Boomer population. Little League Baseball, for instance, begin in 1948 (Boomers typically date from 1946-1964/65) and it seems like it’s always been part of our summertime.The PTA, the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts may have existed prior to the wave of Boomers hitting the public school system, but they certainly were responsible for the growth of those organizations.
The other events and phenomena that we could attribute to the growth of the Boomers – consumer products, Saturday morning cartoons, Rock and Roll music, types of cars, vacation places, and more – possibly would have happened to an extent anyway but likely not as large, widespread, or long.
But here we are today as Boomers are beginning to complete their employment and look for other fulfilling ways to occupy their lives – volunteering (at their church, library, hospital, or charity), golf or other sports, turning a hobby into a business, or starting a second career running their own small business. Some entrepreneurs and proprietors are continuing to work long after what could be viewed as traditional retirement age.
If we consider Boomers to be pre-seniors – seniors perhaps to those much younger than them such as their grandchildren or gradeschoolers but not so much to their children and their friends or their parents – they certainly are aging, as we all are, but this shows that aging in place is definitely not limited to seniors.
As we watch some of the home renovation or house hunting shows on television, a common theme expressed by those current or would-be homeowners is that they are looking for a forever home or that the design being created for them will enable it to be their forever home. The term forever home is used extensively. Forever home is synonymous with aging in place and underscores how this strategy and phenomenon applies across age groups. It definitely is not limited to seniors.
So, while we all are aging, we have choices. Many of us are deciding to remain in the home we have been occupying for awhile and to make this our last home. It may need some tweaks and improvements over time and possibly some reconfiguration of the space or certain rooms, but that’s why there are aging in place specialists like us to assist them in their desire to remain put and to continue living in their homes that they love.