Looking back several years
If we look back to around 2006, aging in place was being discussed, but not with the frequency and enthusiasm that it is today. There was widespread uneasiness with the term – in fact, any phrase containing the word aging was just not something we wanted to utter. Maybe if we didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t happen.
The CAPS program (Certified Aging In Place Specialist) was initially offered in 2002, but several people who took the coursework in its early days did not like the term aging. There had to be a kinder, softer way of expressing this idea.
We reasoned that people – including us – did not want to be talking about a program dealing with aging, even though there are many agencies doing just that.
Looking for an alternative expression
Coming from a long history of new home sales, we constantly evaluated the words we used to make sure we were conveying a comfort level with our clientele. No industry terms that seemed cold or harsh. We wanted to engage our customers and not create any verbal or conceptual barriers with the words or terms we used.
We didn’t want to use any salesy terms or construction expressions that they might not understand, that seemed too technical, or just didn’t convey the warmth of what we wanted them to experience in the home shopping process. So, we re-expressed many of the terms we were using so they would sound warmer and softer or eliminate the technical-sounding nature of them.
As much as we tried, however, there did not seem to another way, let alone a better one, of mentioning aging. It is what it is. It’s natural. Wine, cars, art, and other valuable items age. So, why shouldn’t we – as if we could stop it or control it in any substantive way?
Aging in place finds its voice
So if we are going to be aging anyway, and our clients are as well – in fact, everyone – why not make the most of it? Why not approach it in a strategic way? This is what the aging in place concept is all about and what our renovation strategies are focused on accomplishing.
We have accepted that people are aging – and this is a good thing since stopping it is not a viable alternative. Therefore, how do we accommodate the aging process and the way our needs, abilities, and requirements change over time?
This is the essence of an aging in place focus – taking the safety, access, comfort, and convenience needs of our clients into our scope of practice.
No longer a casual reference
It wasn’t that long ago when aging in place as a hashtag item would not find much of a following. Now, it trends quite well. It has come from an obscure or little-known concept to mainstream consciousness. However, the term or idea itself hasn’t changed as much as our perception and acceptance of it.
We are now willing to talk about it – professionals and consumers alike. TV shows that have a design or renovation emphasis talk about it, new articles mention it, various professional organizations include articles on it in their publications and even encourage their members to become CAPS trained, and consumers are increasingly aware of both the term and what it represents for them.
Aging is not going away
Aging in place has come of age in our consciousness and as a strategy for keeping people vital and vibrant as they live the balance of their lives – decades or just a few years.
Those of us who call ourselves Aging In Place Specialists or have any connection to keeping people safe, active, and comfortable in their chosen living environment can feel a sense of helpfulness for that effort.
No matter how much any of us might want to stay younger indefinitely or how much we eschew the idea of getting older, along with some of the physical changes and potential limitations it might bring, aging definitely is a fact of life.
Those of us who have selected the aging in place arena as a professional calling can know that we are connecting with people with a service that is vital to them having an effective and productive lifestyle. Aging in place is now a prominent aspect of this discussion.