What is “Aging in Place”?

My friends and I talk a lot about “aging in place” and how we hope to do it.  But I realize that some of my readers may not know what the phrase “aging in place” means.

I recently came across a great definition of “aging in place” from the Aging in Place online magazine and thought I would share it:

Aging in Place is the concept that you can (and should be able to) stay in your residence and current living location for the remainder of your life, regardless of changes to your physical, cognitive, or other changes to your body and abilities that may occur with age.

Aging in Place is a choice. Deciding you wish to age in place means you are choosing how you want to spend your retirement years, how you want your home to be set up, what your health care choices will be, which types of assistance are right for you, and what your wishes are for major life events such as sickness, housing transitions, and financial decisions.

Making these choices gives you control over your independence, quality of life and dignity. Most importantly to note, aging in place does not mean you have to do everything yourself; that’s where the plan comes in. It means you get to plan how your needs are met, who meets them and when.”

via What is “Aging in Place”? | Aging In Place | Options LLC – Online Magazine for Baby Boomers and Seniors.

I am particularly taken with two points made in the last paragraph: (1) it doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself, and (2) it involves a plan.  Because, in a nutshell,  that’s what the village movement is about.  With a village, there is a plan for how people can age in place, as well as help with tasks they can no longer do for themselves. And that plan was crafted by the village residents themselves—so it’s their plan,  the one that works for them. Not some generic plan imposed from the outside.

My husband and I are meeting next Monday with one of the founders of a successful village on the east coast. We are eager to learn how they started their village—how they got the word out , what their first meetings were like, what steps they took to get it going.  We are curious how her village is structured and how it works for the people who live in it.   We are hoping there will be many ideas we can borrow, since there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if we don’t have to.  At the same time, we know that our village, the one our neighborhood will ultimately design, will need to be what works for us.  Our plan for our place to address our needs.  I wonder what that will turn out to be?

Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House

“The symbol of American success often involves having the biggest house possible, but our outsized fantasies seem to be shifting. According to a new survey, more than three quarters of us consider having sidewalks and places to take a walk one of our top priorities when deciding where to live. Six in 10 people also said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.”

via Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House – Lifestyle – GOOD.

Does this mean the end of the suburbs and 7000 sq ft McMansions?  Or at least re-purposing them?  One of my realtor friends has a dream of turning the McMansions in a suburb of Portland into a kind of senior co-housing.  But I am not clear how that would address the proximity to stores and other walkability issues.

For those of us who are already thinking about aging-in-place villages in urban neighborhoods, these findings make perfect sense.  Being in a resource-rich community you can get around in without a car is good planning, since as we age many of us will reach the point where driving is no longer an option.  Not to mention, who wants to clean 7000 sq. ft?