The reality of aging
All of us are aging in place, and we always have been. Whatever we list as our address – an apartment, our parents’ home, a home we own, one we rent, a college dormitory or apartment, military housing, a motor home full-time, or something else – we are aging in place there.
This applies to all of us whether we admit it or not. All of us are getting older, and we need to make sure that our homes are capable of allowing us to live in them safely and successfully, to the extent we can or after having professionals help us.
We age in place where we live, regardless of any changes in our abilities that may cause us to think more about how and where we want to live.
Waiting until we are old enough
There are some who speak about attaining a certain age, such as 50, before beginning to age in place well or starting to think about how that might happen in the coming years. This just does not need to be. Who came up with 50? Why not another year? What’s so special about this age?
The truth is that aging in place begins at birth although we obviously are too young to know about or do anything about it. Even as children, we are owed a safe, comfortable, convenient, and accessible living environment. This is the essence of aging in place. As children, obviously, we rely on our parents to help us achieve this.
We don’t have to wait for any age or event. While we might think that aging in place concerns are more appropriate for something in their 50s or older, this is not an absolute. Someone in their 20s can age in place as well as someone much older. It doesn’t require a household of a certain number either. In fact, one-third of retirement-age Americans live alone. It grows larger as we get older.
Why we age in place
We age in place for many reasons – consciously or not. Sometimes we just don’t make a decision either way – which in itself is a decision. The one thing that typically is not part of the decision is age. We don’t decide that we are old enough to remain in our homes. There are many other factors and reasons, but age is not one of the key motivations.
Many of us choose to age in place because we like our homes – they are comfortable and make us happy. We like the layout, the location, and the general way they allow us to use them. We could possibly be as happy someplace else, but we aren’t interested in finding out about that. We aren’t looking for another home and really don’t care to find one.
Another major reason for remaining in our current homes is financial or economic – our homes are largely or totally paid for. We have significant equity in them which we could apply to a different home, but we’d be starting over financially. Our investment likely would not go as far. We would have difficulty replacing what we have now for what we have invested in it or what we could realize on a sale – especially if we have lived in our current home for years. The taxes likely would be higher as would the homeowner association fees.
Another reason, and for some the major one, is that we have so much stuff, not to mention memories, that we have accumulated. We consider the daunting task of sorting through, packing, or potentially moving and then finding a place for all of our stuff in a new home.
No reason to delay it
We can wait until we find that next home to begin officially aging in place, but why should we be forced to wait? After all, we literally are aging in place where we are right now. Maybe we have thought of it in those terms, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
Therefore, we need to do all that we can – regardless of how many live in our home with us, the square footage, the layout, its overall condition, and our general abilities – to make our current homes as safe and liveable as we can. We do not need to wait – and should not wait – until another home comes along later. We may find that our current home is perfectly fine long-term for us regardless of how old we are now or how long we have lived here.
Aging in place starts where we are now.