Counting living with their parents as they were growing up at home and then going away to school and living in an apartment or dormitory, people also could have lived in rental apartments on their own or with roommates or owned a home or condominium apartment. They could have purchased a new home at some point, or it could have been one that was previously owned.
Regardless of how people start out - apartment or home - they generally progress through a series of different residences as their needs, income, and family situation changes. Some people move between cities for employment reasons or even within the same city or general area. Some get married. Some start families. Some have parents or other relatives move in with them as those people become less able to care for themselves.
Nevertheless, people generally have a few different homes that they have lived in throughout their lifetime (from childhood onward) by the time they get to retirement age. Over that time, they will have had homes and layouts or floor plans they liked, and some they likely didn't care for as much. Some of the yards and neighborhoods were more favorable to them than others. Some they would enjoy return to and living in again, and others they are happy to be past.
Generally, we'd like to believe that people have rented an apartment or purchased a home because it fit their financial parameters, met the needs of themselves or their family at the time, was in a location that provided a commuting distance that worked for them, had amenities in the community or nearby that they appreciated, and generally had a layout that was to their liking. Of course, some people likely made hasty decisions just because they needed a place to live, the price (rent or purchase) was right, or something happened near them (a large retailer, factory, warehouse, or outside storage) that changed the appeal (and potential appreciation or value) of that home.
Along the way, many people have been able to identify a home that they like well enough to consider remaining in it forever and not looking for another one to replace it. Depending on their employment and whether moving for job-related reasons might be appropriate later on, people can come to this realization at any age. It's not just people in their 60s or 70s that determine that they have found their long-term home. This can happen at any age, or it's possible it never happens - people just continue to live in the home they have later in life without liking it that much but resigned to keeping it and making the best of it. They figure that remaining put is easier (and likely less expensive) than moving.
So, the question becomes one of whether a new dwelling is needed or advisable - and for what reasons someone's present home doesn't measure up to what they need or require. If it's where it located, that can't be changed without a move. However, if there is something physical about the home - layout, features, condition, styles, colors, or finishes - we can change that as aging-in-place providers.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, 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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.