What a difference a year makes
A familiar expression is that a year can make a big difference in the lives and experiences of people. This likely has never been truer than what all of us have experienced in the past 12 months. We went from a normal existence as we knew it to a world turned upside down. Most everything we knew, and the way we were going about our daily lives changed.
We were working from home, or not working. Our favorite eateries were closed or operating with takeout only. Many businesses had reduced hours or were closed. In many cases, groceries and technology products were in very short supply as the shelves were cleared by concerned consumers, and the resupply took a while to happen. Some items still have returned to the shelves a year later.
Nevertheless, we have learned some important lessons in the past year – our ability to age in place being one of the key ones.
Getting reacquainted with our homes
All of us over the past year have been aging in place, whether that is a term we previously had identified with or even known. Nevertheless, this has been the case. People who possibly never thought of themselves as aging in place or considered being in their homes for an extended period of time have found that they needed to do it and that it wasn’t so bad – and many found it to be pleasant and enjoyable.
The point is that people everywhere were finding out what it is like to age in place – on a rather intense basis. Aging in place does not mean being confined to our homes and never leaving them, but some people found that essentially this was the case.
Aging in place simply means remaining in our chosen home long-term, and we all found that we could do this even with no advance planning or necessarily any thoughts about doing so.
Aging in place takes no preparation
Most of us found ourselves staying at home for an extended period of time without much or any advance notice. One day it was simply a change in the way we went about our daily business. We remained at home rather than going to the office, going shopping, or calling on clients.
Aging in place doesn’t necessarily mean that we are confined to our homes with never being able to leave them. Neither does it mean that people can’t visit us. However, both scenarios defined much of the past year’s activities.
Still, aging in place just means that we are happy with our current home and see no reason to replace it with something else. It meets our needs. To the extent that it doesn’t offer everything we want to have in a home for safety, comfort, convenience, or accessibility, those changes can be made.
Learning what we didn’t know about our homes
Prior to spending so much time in our homes out of necessity much of the past year – and for many, this is still continuing – we likely hadn’t given that much thought about aging in place or how well our homes could accommodate our needs on a long-term basis. Some had, but likely most had not.
We had a chance to rediscover our homes, and not just the physical properties of them but how well they allowed all of the members of our household the ability to coexist for extended periods of time. Everyone’s needs had to be factored into the mix so that all of us had a good experience and outcome.
To the extent that our home came up short in any particular area – bathroom size and accommodations, for instance, or places for several people to use their computers and internet at the same time for conferences, study, or connecting with family and colleagues – we quickly identified a wish list of things we could do or have done to prepare our home for our long-term use.
A test-run for long-term aging in place
All of us are aging in place, and there is no preparation or getting ready required or needed. However, for the long-term effective use of our homes, we likely have identified some changes we would like to employ. In a sense, the past year has served as a great test for looking at how well our homes are prepared to serve us, how well we enjoy living in them long-term (even without leaving them for extended periods of time), and what changes might be helpful for us to have.
Now that we have experienced aging in our place in our current homes and seen how pleasant the experience generally can be, we can look forward to a time when we are doing this as a lifestyle choice or take the necessary steps to make the enhancements we would like to see to make our homes serve us better when we are spending more time in them.