What Does “Aging In Place” REALLY Mean?
Recently I read an interesting article about a study that looked at what “aging in place” means to older people. In the study, academics ventured out to discuss “aging in place” with actual seniors. It seems that the term is widely used by businesses, government agencies and so on, but no one had really interviewed seniors themselves to find out what they thought. Curiously the seniors were largely unfamiliar with the term “aging in place.” When asked what they thought it meant, some said it meant they would be stuck somewhere forced to get old while not having any choice in where they lived!
When asked about how important it was for them to continue to live where they live now, they all agreed that it was of the utmost importance to them. But when the conversation turned to details, it turned out that they meant something different than what most of us think about aging in place. Most weren’t so attached to their house itself, but to their area or neighborhood. It was their friends, churches and connection to volunteer activities that mattered. The particular building wasn’t the focus at all.
What do seniors want?
When asked, the seniors said that they wanted their neighborhoods to support their ability to continue to live in the vicinity, to offer retirement living options, and places were easy to walk to or easy to reach through some kind of transit service.
Finding the answers for yourself…
Oddly, this is what I want for myself. I don’t want to stay in this giant house alone with nothing but the radio or television for company. I like the idea of having friends within walking distance, or perhaps down the hall at a retirement community.
And it is important to me to stay in the current vicinity. I’ll probably want to let go of house maintenance chores, like lawn mowing, leaf raking and gutter cleaning. But I’ll still want to enjoy the misty, evergreen, fern-filled ambiance of the Northwest outdoors. Maybe I’ll have the desire for a small garden plot or a few pottted plants, while someone else can takes care of the larger environment.
I’ve visited many retirement living options, seen the inside and had a chance to talk to some residents, in the Seattle and Eastside area. I have been impressed at how happy, active and vibrant the social community feels and often hear the comment, “I wish I had moved here years ago.”
So when we hear someone say they want to “age in place,” and that they don’t want to leave their home, maybe we need to dig a little deeper. Do they mean the very building? Or do they mean the community and culture of their neighborhood and vecinity?
I guess it’s about time for someone to ask seniors what they want, isn’t it?
Lucky for us, we are in the business of helping seniors Move Forward, while still aging in place. 😉 Give us a call. We can help or direct you to resources that will help support you in your journey.