Beginning at the beginning
There may be several ideas of when aging in place begins, but an answer that makes a lot of sense is that aging in place begins at birth. Sure, infants are too young to do anything for themselves so it falls to their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other adults in their family to pitch in and help them relate well to their surroundings.
We create a comfortable living space for them that grows along with them in those first few weeks and months. We help them to age in place, but the clock has begun ticking.
Aging in place is not a chronological factor
Whether a child is a few days or weeks old, or even older, they are aging in place – even if they have no conscious knowledge of this happening. They just aren’t aware of it or what it takes to do it well. On the other hand, the others in their family have this knowledge and ability and can jump in to offer their assistance.
While it might be nice to have a set of guidelines like age three, five, seven, or some other age when we can say that the developing child is making their way in the world and defining the space around them, this usually is not the case. It’s up to us to do that with and for them.
However, by the time a child displays some measure of independence in the home environment by claiming their own bedroom space (usually after having it offered to them by their parents), they are more actively participating in controlling their aging in place. They help define what is safe, comfortable, accessible, and convenient in their controlled living space (their bedroom). This early activity will carry on through life as they get that first apartment and possibly subsequent ones, or eventually buy or rent a home to occupy.
Aging in place is a continuum
In the big picture, aging in place has no real beginning, and it continues for our entire lives. We are aging in place wherever we are living at the moment and have some say in how we are able to do so. Independence is a key concept in effective aging in place, but some would say that aging in place is occurring even if someone is not living independently.
Ideally, we begin aging in place before we are even aware of the concept and carry those lessons with us into our adult world where we find and occupy a home environment that provides what we need it to for a comfortable and independent lifestyle.
Life goes on, and so does aging in place.