There may indeed be an ideal or optimum age for mental prowess or physical ability, but from an aging in place standpoint consider many of the important age-related mileposts that line a person's journey through life.
From a philosophical viewpoint, people may feel that they never attain their ideal age because it's still out there in front of them. Certainly, physical abilities change over time, as well as our likes and dislikes and what we are willing to try and explore versus shun or just accept.
Aging is a very complex subject.
Some us would love to go back to an earlier age - 18, 21, or 35 for instance - but we would like to be that age with the knowledge and level of experience that we have now. Likely fewer people, if any at all, would like to go back to an earlier age and then have to live through or learn what comes next in live to get us to where we are today. Fortunately, that is no an option for anyone.
Since we can't change our age or our past experiences - particularly the not such good ones - we need to begin where we are and look forward. Essentially that is what the aging in place concept embodies - continuing to live well where we are regardless of how we got here. To the extent possible we want to improve our living conditions where we are to make our homes more accessible and navigable, more comfortable, more convenient, and safer.
While it's true that there have been various watershed ages that we looked forward to attaining - as if they seemingly would never arrive - looking back they pale by some of the current worries and pressures of life that we have. Simpler times perhaps.
Remember wanting to be old enough (10, 12, or some other age) to be left at home without a babysitter? How about being 12 or so and not having to pay kid prices anymore (which looking back wasn't such a bad deal)? Of course, there's 16 and being eligible to get a driver's license - some did, some didn't right away, but it's still a monumental age attainment.
There have been other important ages as we moved through life - 18 and 21, for instance, or 25 for being able to rent a car. Depending on where we are in life right now, we are looking ahead or back on age 50 (AARP membership eligibility), 55 or 60 for some senior discounts, 62 for early social security, 65 for medicare, and other ages as well.
So, of all those ages referenced, which one is the ideal age? Ask an Olympic athlete who may feel past their prime in their 20s or a professional athlete who often peaks in their early 30s (depending on the sport). Others of us like other ages for what we have been able to do or what we plan on doing at that age. In short, we can't go back - even if that time in the past was the "perfect" age. All we can do is live in the moment and look ahead to tomorrow.
As aging in place professionals, we get to help people stay in their current home and do well with what they have - or recommend ways for them to make their situation even better. For most people, when it comes down to it, their ideal age is now, even if they can't do everything they once could. We adjust, adapt, and move on.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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.