We learn from our parents
Early in life, we learn from our parents. We study the way they deal with life’s issues – happiness, joy, disappointment, illness, financial matters, home repairs, and other matters of living that they encounter. We learn how they provide for us. We are sponges soaking up the experiences we encounter in and around u at home in those early, formative years.
For those of us who are parents or grandparents, with young children or grandchildren, this phenomena should be taken to heart. We have a tremendous responsibility for shaping and influencing the lives and attitudes of our young people as they mature and go out into the world to make their own way – even if is still a few years off for some of them.
There is no formal training
While we learn for our parents and other adults who are influential in our lives (teachers, pastors, neighbors, coaches, and friends’ parents), there are no formal classes or discussion groups on aging in place. We absorb what we see and hear first hand. This is a tremendous responsibility for the adults, most of whom likely are unaware of this educational role and influence.
As we see and hear the adults in our lives respond to various crisis situations that arise (financial, repairs, relationships, or medical), we file that away. We may model future responses or behavior in similar situations on this observed behavior at an earlier age.
Our parents and other adults we watch may not even be aware that they are imparting their ways of responding to issues confronting them and the family or household. Still, we are learning from them. Asking questions may not be appropriate so we’ll have to absorb what we can, even if it is not completely understood about how or why something is being approached in a certain way.
Going out on our own
At some point in life, most people leave the family home and strike out on their own. It may be to attend college, to enlist in the military, to rent that first apartment, or to take a job in another city. There are no handbooks or textbooks to reference on how to do this so it will be a combination of judgment, trial and error, and a fall-back to what we learned and observed living in the family home during those earlier years of life.
We may get some things right, and we may struggle with others. This is part of maturing and in life in general. However, as we are learning what works, what to avoid, what we like, and what doesn’t work so well for us, we are creating a mental database of what a future, more ideal living space should look like for us. We may find it, have it built, or get one that is reasonably close in layout with some other features such as location that make it something we might want to live in long-term.
Regardless, there is no one to contact for advice on which home or apartment to select for our personal needs. We can discuss our options or intentions with parents, friends, or real estate agents, but it is our decision. We have to evaluate what is available based on the cost to live there, the features and general layout it offers (and how comfortable we think we might be living there for a period of time), and the general condition of it. While we might save money buying a fixer-upper or renting something that was not well-maintained in the past, this may not be something we are prepared to deal with for more than a few months. The price might be right, but the degree of comfort and well-being it offers could be lacking. We should keep looking for something else if at all possible. This we may have learned from our parents.
Whether it’s that first home or apartment – and maybe we happened to pick something exceedingly well for our longer-term needs – or it’s a second, third, or fourth home or apartment that we are occupying, we are aging in place. Drawing upon the adjustments that we need to make to our living space to make it safe and comfortable for ourselves – that we had an opportunity to observe in how our parents and other adults we knew handled such issues they encountered – we made where we were living at the time as compatible with our needs as we could. Maybe we still are living in that same space.
This is aging in place – remaining where we are long-term (perhaps after having shorter stints in other homes or apartments along the way) and dealing with the physical aspects of the home and our personal needs to the best of our ability. Hopefully, we will have learned quite a bit from those very early years at home in watching how our parents and other influential adults dealt with such issues.
Ready or not, we are aging in place where we are.