Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Aging-In-Place Is A Fine Description As It Is"

The idea of aging-in-place goes back at least to the middle part of the last century, and likely earlier than that. However, the formal acknowledgement of and focus on creating ways for people to live successfully and effectively in their homes is a fairly recent development.

Still, the idea of aging-in-place - at least by that term - is unsettling to many people. At first, it seems, at least from a marketing perspective if nothing more, that we could have a name for this movement that just sounded better. Putting the name 'aging' in the title just sounds a little strong.

Back in 2006 when first hearing about the CAPS program and beginning to teach it, the phrase "aging-in-place" didn't sit well with a lot of people that were taking the CAPS coursework. They just didn't like the idea of "aging" and referring to it so prominently. They wanted a softer term. There definitely was pushback.

But what is a better term? Accessibility is a softer term that generally describes aging-in-place - but not as well as it should. There are other issues such as safety, comfort, and convenience. There may not be a better term to use, so let's stick with 'aging' for now.

Two recent attempt - and there may be additional ones as well - to relabel the aging in place market and remove the aging tag are "living in place" and "thriving in place' - not bad but not exactly where the market is.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to view the concept of aging-in-place as anything less than the positive strategy it is. We should not even consider the possibility that the word aging is a word that people don't like hearing. We all are aging. It's a fact of life. The idea that we can do something to help people deal with it effectively is great.

It's not limited to any particular geography or part of the world either. This concept has really caught on so jump in and use your specialty (for instance remodeling, OT, design, or consulting) to help create effective solutions for people.

For those who have earned the CAPS designation, proudly refer to it and use it on websites and other marketing.

While living in place, thriving in place, and similar rewords and paraphrases of the aging-in-place term denote some semantic variances, we are actually aging as we are living in place - irrespective of our age, ability, or type of dwelling we have. As for the idea of thriving - many people are, yet many are not. There are coping and getting by. That does not lessen their efforts even though they may not be succeeding as well as others are.

There does not seem to be any real advantage to be gained - except possibly softening the idea of aging - in ignoring the aging aspect of what people are doing by remaining in their homes and we are doing by trying to help and work with them in this endeavor - by rebranding it as something that maybe doesn't apply to everyone as they are growing older. Aging-in-place seems to be OK as a term and concept so we should go right on ahead and keep using it.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.