Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"What Is Aging In Place Anyway?"

As aging in place professionals, we may think we have a good definition of what aging in place is, but I imagine there still is a fair amount of distinctions that could be drawn among us. There is a generally accepted working definition of aging in place as allowing people to remain in their present home as they grow older - some say indefinitely, others place a time limit or cognitive ability on it.

While staying at home is the root of aging in place, it is not the sole or sufficient definition. As I wrote yesterday in "Aging In Place Isn't Just For Seniors" and will be presenting a session with the same title at the International Builders Show in Orlando on January 12th, age really has little to do with the phenomenon of aging in place. It's much more about livability and mindset than it is age or ability.

So, is aging in place just a phenomena for seniors? Does one have to be a certain age or ability? Live in a certain type of home? Have lived in that home for a special number of years? Any of these situations could factor into someone's definition of what aging in place is for them, but that is just a partial picture.

Aging in place includes so much more. Even if we were going yo limit our discussion or our definition of aging in place to so-called seniors, there are many ways to define a senior. It can range from age 50 or so on the low side to over 70 on the upper side. Part of it is dependent on who is doing the defining also. the older that person is, the higher the range will tend to go.

If we ask a child what old is or to name someone who is old, they might pick a parent, a teacher, or someone in their 40s - people considerably older than they are but not what we typically thin of as being old. Similarly, people in their 60s and 70s don't see 80s as being old at all.

It's a matter of perspective. The closer we are to something, the more normal it appears. As a 60-year old, someone 70 seems relatively the same age and therefore not "old" or that much older - a contemporary. For a 25-year old, a 30-year old seems relatively the same age, but both as are children to a 65-year old person, who literally could be their parent.

Back to our original question of aging in place. Does it have to be a homeowner? Someone of a certain age? A couple? Obviously not. Singles, renters, multi-generationals, and so many others fit the term of aging in place. Aging in place is merely a description for people living where they are for more than a few days and trying to make it the best living environment possible. Some are more successful than others, and some put more effort and interest into it than others. in the end, everyone is aging in place where they are.

Aging in place is making the most of the environment we find ourselves in at the moment although some will chose to do nothing except exist in their space and bide their time until some life event changes their circumstances.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, 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.