Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Moving Into Another Home Is Not Following The Spirit Of Aging In Place"

We often hear about following the letter of the law but not the spirit of it, or sometimes, the reverse of this. It means that someone approaches an issue legalistically and does what the law or rule says they must do, and not one ounce more. They do only what they must, and they are very careful to meet just what is required. On the other hand, meeting the spirit of the law is to accomplish what the ordinance or the thought behind it embodies - why it was created - but maybe not doing everything it requires.

In the same way, people often meet the letter of aging in place without conforming to the spirit or intent of it. As to the letter of it, aging in place means simply that a person enjoys safe, comfortable, and accessible living quarters where they are at any moment in time - in their parent's home as a child, at college, in their first apartment, in a starter home, going to a move-up home, having a vacation home, or finding their permanent, forever home.

Someone may move into another home at any age and begin aging in place in that new dwelling for as long as they remain there. For older individuals, they might move into a so-called active adult community (55+ age restricted), with emphasis on the "active" part. For people desiring a quiet lifestyle in an older neighborhood, this would not be for them. Some people seek or feel they need to have some type of a managed care environment with social events, meals, and other people to be around and interact with at their new home.

There is nothing prohibiting people from selecting a nursing home, assisted living, congregate living, or other type of group living environment. This option is open to anyone with the financial ability and desire to make it happen for themselves or a loved one. Nevertheless, the concept of aging in place says that this, while a viable option, does not need to happen. People can elect - consciously or by default - to remain in their current homes for the rest of their lives.

Some people find another home to live in as they get older because they find their current home to be too large, too much for to maintain, or too much in need of improvements to make it accessible for them. Then, they can age in place for the rest of their lives in their new home. For everyone else, they can age in place where they are right now - as the concept of aging in place suggests and why the concept began. 

Some people feel that they need to move into another home at some point in their advancing years - to downsize or to have a level of care that doesn't seem to be available living where they are. In years past, this was more true than it is today. With the level of care that people can receive in their homes from visiting nurses and other professionals, as well as the advances in connectivity to the outside world through devices such as Amazon's Echo ("Alexa"), Google Home, ElliQ, Samsung, and others who might be coming to market with a similar product, most people can choose to live on their own (single or with others in their household) indefinitely. Only severe medical issues requiring hospitalization or rehabilitation would be cause for them to leave their homes. 

Now, more than ever, people can choose to age in place in their current homes. The technology is rapidly evolving to where this will even be easier and safer to do so. This aligns with the intent or spirit of aging in place - staying put where we are - as opposed to finding another place to live for whatever reason.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place 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.