Aging in place is simple – it requires no real work on our part other than adjusting and adapting to what life puts in our path. Still, the basic dwelling space we require – as simple or elaborate as that might need to be according to our budget and personal lifestyle requirements and preferences – does not need to change over time. That’s the whole premise of aging in place – that we can select a dwelling that we like at some point along the way and choose to remain living there for the duration.
The requirements that we have for our living space can change over time, but most of them can be accommodated by the basic shell that we call a home. We can redecorate, reconfigure the space, rearrange the furniture, add on to the space that we have, create accessory buildings, acquire new furniture or add pieces to what we already have, and we can paint and accessorize. With the exception of adding onto the building, nothing will change the basic footprint of our home. It will look essentially the same from the outside, save repainting, new windows, a new roof, the addition of trim, or other cosmetic improvements.
While our shelter or housing is a very basic need and requirement of human survival, there is nothing to say that it needs to be replaced periodically. Once we find something that meets our needs, that we like, that has a suitable location for us, and that we can see or imagine ourselves living in long-term – even with some internal modifications, we are set. Check off the housing box and move on to other issues facing us in life. There are many of them that it’s great to be able to eliminate the housing one and focus on everything else that concerns us.
So, what does aging in place entail? Many people are doing it so it must not be that hard. It isn’t!
We don’t need to do anything special to age in place. Essentially, we just need to stay put where we are. We can choose to enhance or modify our homes – or not. It is not required. In fact, nothing is required. There are no declarations or affidavits to complete or file, no inspections, no fees to be paid, no minimum criteria to be satisfied – nothing. We don’t have to attain a certain age, and our homes do not need to be a certain age either or have particular needs or characteristics. It really is simple.
In fact, it is so simple to accomplish that many people are aging in place without even realizing it or admitting it. If we were to ask them about what they are doing, their answer would have nothing to do with aging in place intentionally. Instead, they would say that they are waiting for the right time to move, they are waiting for market conditions to change, they are waiting for their financial condition to improve, that they really haven’t given it much thought, that they intend to move but just haven’t gotten to it, or several other responses that indicate that they have not admitted to a long-term, aging in place lifestyle even though that very likely is what they are doing.
Since aging in place does not require any type of response, anyone can participate. Even those that might not admit that they are doing it actually are. What is apparent, however, is that having solved the need for housing – either by openly declaring that one’s current home is their forever home or just by continuing to remain living in it without taking any steps to move from it, one of life’s major challenges has been permanently addressed, and we can move on from there.
When we don’t have to worry about or be concerned about where we are going to live in a few months, next year, or even five years from now, because the answer is that we are going to be in the same home that we have selected as our long-term residence, we are free to consider other things in our lives – gardening, recreational activities, our family, hobbies such as painting or photography, travel, reading, writing, or anything else that we want to pursue in our leisure time. Volunteer work at a hospital, local school, non-profit organization, church, or other charity may be something we want to do as well.
Some of us are going to have health concerns – personally or with close family members. We will have the emotional and financial resources to deal make this a priority since finding a new place to live or focusing on housing is not necessary. We can even concentrate on maintaining our current home and investing some money in maintenance, upkeep, and improvements since we are committed to remaining in it.
Aging in place has many significant advantages.