Misconceptions and Realities of Aging-In-Place

This blog will be the first of a four-part series posted throughout the month of February. Each post will address one of the most common misconceptions about aging in place, followed by the reality.

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Misconception: Aging in Place is a Conversation for ‘Old’ People
Many people do not want to talk about or make plans for aging in place because they believe that it is only something “old” people need to do. Amongst homeowners who are 55 years old or older, 61 percent say that they are planning to stay in their home indefinitely as they age. The most common reasons they cite are that they enjoy the independence they feel in their current home, they feel safe in their present home, they do not have any physical disabilities, and they have family who lives nearby. However, HomeAdvisor found that homeowners who are over age 70 (77 percent) are more likely to desire staying in their home than homeowners who are age 56-70 (56 percent). (“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor” 2017)

This gap could be explained by people not feeling old enough to start the conversation on aging-in-place. On the other hand, it could also be rationalized by the fact that most individuals who plan on moving have most likely already done so by their 70s, whereas those who are older are already aging-in-place.

In fact, HomeAdvisor found that roughly 1/5 of homeowners have completed renovations that would allow them to age-in-place, whereas 1/3 of homeowners report having never considered making these types of modifications. Those who have not thought about aging-in-place renovations have two main reasons. The top reason given was that neither these individuals nor their loved ones had disabilities that would require such modifications to be made. The second most common reason given was that these homeowners did not consider themselves old enough to warrant contemplating these types of renovations. (“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor” 2017)

Reality: The Best Time to Think About Aging in Place is … Now

No one wants to age, or believe that they are getting older, which is why it makes sense that people wait until their seventies to announce that they have decided to “age-in-place”. On the other hand, something everyone wants to do is, “thrive-in-place”. In other words, they want to make their homes more accommodating.

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A young woman in her first home could add a shower bench to her to her tub to make it easier to shave her legs and take a relaxing shower at the end of a long day.

A young parent could have a microwave installed in place of a base drawer or cabinet, flanking the oven. This would allow them to teach their children how to cook meals more independently. It would also make it possible for the parent to stay in their home, as they get older, and are in a wheelchair or if they find reaching upward difficult.

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What is wonderful is that the same features that assist younger homeowners in thriving in their homes will allow them to do the same when they are older. It’s all about maximizing comfort, convenience and, as a result, happiness

“Aging in place isn’t about special add-on features that will only help you once you’ve fallen and incurred a disability,” says Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., director of Livable Communities at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “It’s about making functional home improvements that make spaces more useful and more usable for anyone, anytime.” (“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes” 2017)

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“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.