Saturday, December 10, 2016

'Is 'Aging-In-Place' The Best Term For What We Do?"

The term "aging-in-place" may catch a lot of people off-guard. Who wants to age?Don't we want to promote youth and vitality? Doesn't labeling something with the word "aging" in it really hurt our case?

There has to be a better way of expressing our mission - something snappier, something more modern, something that stays away from the "A" word.

Isn't there a better term for talking about what we do - helping people remain in their homes as they age and remain as independent and vital as possible? What would it be? Aren't we aging, and aren't we doing it in place? It seems to fit. We just don't like being reminded of the fact that we are getting older.

For some, aging may signal a loss of youth and youthful pursuits such as being able to run quickly or play various sports. It may mean diminished eyesight and other senses. It might suggest arthritis, white hair (or possibly no hair), and other outward signs that we associate with getting older. Haven't we earned that?

Solomon tells us in Proverbs 16:31 that gray hair is a noble crown earned from living a good life. It is something to be esteemed rather than avoided.

On first hearing, aging-in-place may sound a little less than politically correct. Isn't there a better way of describing what is happening without mentioning the "A" word? However, as we get a little older with each passing month and year, the term seems to fit, and we don't mind it a bit.

We are thrilled to be able to live in a home we enjoy and in a setting we like. If our home doesn't quite measure up to what we need or what we expected, then we can employ some universal design measures and other renovation strategies.

Let's get past this idea that aging is not good or that somehow we have to sugarcoat or rename it to avoid the subject of aging - we really don't have much of a choice except to get older as the days pass. We need to wholeheartedly and enthusiastically embrace it and get on with the process of living - living life to the fullest extent possible in the homes we have.


There are new terms of "thriving" in place and "living" in place, but notice that the "in-place" part doesn't change - only the way we refer to getting older. We don't need to be in denial. We need to be in full throttle expectancy of the great days that lie ahead - even if we and the ones we serve are facing physical challenges and discomfort.

Our role as aging-in-place professionals is to help people - including ourselves - live in a safe home that is as comfortable and accessible as it can be based on what we have to start with and how much money we can contribute to any desired improvements so that we have a very pleasant aging-in-place experience in a very familiar environment that we like. 

There may still be some people who aren't on-board with the idea of aging - forever proclaiming their youthfulness - but we have the tools, strategies, and tactics to adapt living spaces into very comfortable and convenient homes that will serve us well as we get older. Aging, and especially aging-in-place, can be meaningful and enjoyable. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, 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.