“The Virus Response Was A Dress Rehearsal For Aging In Place”

Multiple generations together under one roof and adapting to the use of the computer and the internet to communicate with the world around us has changed the way we might be living into the future.


Staying at home

Prior to the pandemic brought about by the COVID-19 virus, most people did not conduct the bulk of their daily activities from home. Those who had a home-based business, did some office work from home, were retired, or did not work typically left home each day to commute to their workplace wherever that was. It might have been a short walking or bicycle commute, one reachable quickly by mass transit, or a little longer drive by car or taxi. It could have been an airplane trip to meet with clients or the home office.

Once the order came to remain at home, our normal routine changed. Many of us weren’t prepared for it, but then something remarkable happened. We found that this was easier, less stressful, and as much or even more productive than the in-person activities we had been doing all of our lives up until then.

The paradigm shift

We developed a new behavior. If we had school-age children, we didn’t need to get up early and do all of the necessary activities to get them up, dressed, fed, and out the door – whether they walked, rode their bike, drove (high school age), took the school bus, or we took them. We likely still got up early (by habit) and made sure they were ready for the day’s activities, but there was no place for them to go. There was no place for us to go. We all stayed at home.

People began working from home – they had no choice. Office buildings were closed. If commuter transit lines were still running, there was little place to go. People began messaging, phoning, and working online from home – from their kitchen, bedroom, den, basement, living room, dining room, back porch, or other areas where they could set up a computer connection.

Sales of webcams and online conferencing programs skyrocketed. It was almost impossible to find a webcam if your computer didn’t have a webcam built into it. Teachers were delivering lessons online.

We changed our way of doing business overnight, and many of us – while we may have protested at first because it was something new and different – found that we liked it. We could be more productive and found that we were less stressed (from not needing to commute or face throngs of people). We could work additional hours as necessary without feeling that we were neglecting our home life, children, grandchildren, pets, or those who required our supervision or care.

Getting reacquainted with our homes

We chose to live where we are now – a home we purchased or an apartment we are renting – because it met a need. We liked (and still do) the location, the layout, the price, or a combination of these factors. Maybe it was the character of the neighborhood and its attractiveness, and perhaps the potential for appreciation and resale seemed desirable. Maybe we felt this was a home that we could occupy long-term with no immediate or foreseen need to find something else later on to occupy. It may have been, consciously or not, an aging in place or forever home acquisition.

Regardless of why we purchased or rented the space we have now, unless we already were retired or had a home-based business and did not need to leave home each day to go to the office or plant, we did not count on using our home as a main base of operation. It was comfortable for us in many respects, but we did not foresee it being a place for the children or grandchildren to receive their school lessons (unless they were being homeschooled already), our main office until further notice for conducting all of our customary business activities, a place where we would maintain social connections with family and friends as a main point of contact since we weren’t seeing them in person as much, and a place where everyone in the home was together more or less at the same time the entire day.

It’s a good thing we liked the home we selected and that we like being around each other so much since we have been forced to accept both as the new paradigm.

Aging in place practice

We have been given an immersion into what it’s like to remain at home and function from there on a full-time basis – aging in place at its best. Normally, we would be able to venture out to the workplace, recreation, shopping, dining, or sightseeing. However, much of that has been curtailed, meaning that we had even more time to spend indoors within the confines of our home and decide how well we liked being there. Fortunately, we got along well with our homes, and when the day comes when we no longer want to leave home to pursue outside activities, we know that we will be happy at home. We have proved it.

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