What is so tough about aging in place? Potentially nothing at all. Possibly, a lot.
Let’s think back to some of those monumental periods of our life – at least they seemed that way at the time. How about trying out for a team (baseball, football, or basketball, for instance)? Did we talk to our friends or parents about this huge decision? How did we decide on which sport to pursue or which team to try for? How much practice time might it take? What were our chances of making the team if we did try out? If we made the team, what were our chances of seeing any playing time – or a significant amount of playing time so that our time investment would have some reward for us?
If sports wasn’t our thing, maybe it was the band or orchestra, a dance company, or a part in a play. We still were concerned that we would be doing the right thing at the time, that our chances for success were reasonably good, that it would be a good use of our time, and that we would not be risking embarrassing ourselves in the effort.
Remember deciding on a college? We collected several brochures and visited several websites for colleges – those with a rich history, with a certain prestige, with beautiful or traditional campuses, that were closer to home, that we could reasonably afford, that had a good reputation for our planned field of study, that had good programs in sports or music is that was an interest to us, and for other reasons that were important to us.
We studied which college might appeal to us and we discussed our life-altering (or so it seemed) decision with parents, siblings, coaches, guidance counselors, friends, alumni of the schools we were considering, and any other resource we could tap. We thought about our choice – a lot. Eventually, we arranged to visit some of the schools on our shortlist. We applied and were accepted – perhaps at more than one school and then the decision process began again. We visited one or more schools to get a firsthand look at our potential new home.
At some point, we made a decision and closed this chapter in our lives – that of making this big choice. However, some of us changed our major field, some of us looked for a more affordable school, some looked for a school where some of our friends were giving us good reports of what they were experiencing, and some of us just like to consider the possibility of doing something different without ever acting on that idea.
Then came that first professional position that we approached much like finding a college except that some of us took the first offer that came along or one that was recommended to us by someone we trusted. We stayed in it, or we changed firms or our major focus. We stayed in the same city, or we moved – sometimes to a different country.
We found that first place to stay away from mom and dad. This happened before college, at the same time as college, or after completion – unless we went to the military and didn’t need much of a home base until our service was completed.
Along the way, as we moved from that first apartment (or in some cases a home that we were able to rent) to the next and then the next, we learned what we liked in a floor plan or location and how to choose our next dwelling more wisely. We began matching our needs and lifestyle with what the physical space we had chosen to libve in could help us accomplish. When we became significantly dissatisfied with what we had selected, we likely looked for another place to live. We repeated that process a few to several times.
At some point, we found a home that, while perhaps not perfect for us, checked most of the boxes on our list of concerns or “must-haves.”
Over the ensuing months or years, depending on long ago it was that we moved into our current home, we decided that this would be our long-term home. This may have been a conscious decision because we readily admitted that it did all that we needed for it to do for us and we could see never moving from it. It could have been a quieter decision that we never really verbalized but knew just the same that there was no real point in leaving what we had and looking for something else.
Regardless, aging in place just requires that we keep living in out current homes and keep doing life to the best of our ability – adjusting for bumps in the road as they present themselves and making the necessary accommodations for them.