Remaining in our forever homes
Whether we call where we live our long-term, forever, or permanent homes – or just “home” because it where we want to live with no intention of moving – our dwellings fulfill a huge need that we have for a dependable place to live with the passing days, weeks, and years. By continuing to occupy and live in our current homes indefinitely, we can move on to focusing on other aspects of living that concern us.
Remaining in our current homes without the need to replace them with something else – because we really like our homes or can’t think of any reason to change what we are doing and where we are living – means that we are among the very large majority of people (and especially those we would count as seniors) who are aging in place.
Our present homes fulfill our housing needs now and as far into the future as we can imagine or envision. This is the essence of aging in place.
All of us are part of aging in place
Aging in place applies to literally everyone, whether we have any physical needs, concerns, or limitations that impact our mobility and daily activities or not. It doesn’t matter if we have sensory or cognitive impairments or physical requirements – as long as it is safe for us to live on our own and manage reasonably well, by ourselves, with a spouse or family member, or under the supervision of a visiting or full-time caregiver.
Some people would suggest that successful aging in place allows or requires a move to another dwelling – into another apartment or home, moving in with family, or relocating to an assisted living facility, independent living campus, group quarters, cluster housing, high-density apartments, or some other type of congregate or institutional living. There may be a good reason that someone would want to choose a move like this, but this skips the original intent of aging in place – of remaining in one’s home long-term. After the move, it’s true that people may then age in place in their new housing, but the idea of needing to move to find acceptable housing in which to age is not what the term suggests or implies.
Aging in place is not – and was never intended by definition – to be a two-step or two-stage process where people move from where they are now into a new dwelling and then age in place from that point. The whole idea is that people do not need to move and that they can continue living in their current home as it is with no modifications of any kind. They may desire or select to perform some improvements (of varying degrees) to make life more enjoyable and easier for them.
Is the grass always greener?
Is the grass always greener somewhere else, or can we find the peace, comfort, satisfaction, safety, and lifestyle where we live currently – as it already exists or with some improvements and renovations?
While it’s true that people can look for and find a new dwelling for themselves and then begin aging in place at that new location, and likely never need to move again, this is counterproductive for the most part. Unless the current home is unsafe, in a neighborhood that is not conducive to aging in place there, or does not present a good lifestyle scenario for the residents for various other reasons, they should remain where they are and age in place there.
Aging in place does not suggest that anyone needs to find a new or different place to live or that they must move and age in place from that new location. It means that wherever they are right now is where they should continue to be, and that they either make the most of it as it is, or they enlist the services of aging in place professionals like us (including contractors, designers, OTs and PTs, mobility equipment specialists, and sensory needs professionals), well-meaning family, friends or neighbors, or community-based or social service agencies to help them adapt their living quarters for their current and projected needs.
Beginning where we are
Aging in place is a strategy that takes people where they currently are living and determines what needs, if any, they have personally that need to be met or accommodated. It also considers anything else that their home presents to them and working to correct that, based on budget, medical necessity, and other priorities.
Aging in place It is based on meeting people where they are living and what they require. It does not mean that they should find another, possibly more suitable home, move into it, and then begin aging in place from that point forward. While technically they would be aging in place, they would be defeating the main premise which is to allow them to stay where they are and not need to move.
While moving into another home may have an attraction for some people, the whole idea of aging in place makes this unnecessary and allows people to remain where they are – in a home they are familiar with, in a neighborhood they know, with all of their “stuff” intact, and all of their recent (or long-term, depending on the length of time living there) memories present.