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Should Aging In Place Actually Be Called Aging In The Right Place?

Should Aging In Place Actually Be Called Aging In The Right Place?

By Susan Williams

I recently participated in the Atlantic’s conference called the The New Old Age.

During the conference, there were a number of interesting topics and panelists (here’s the link to the whole session if you’re interested).

But there was one statement in particular that really stood out for me.

In the segment on Aging In Place, an author named Ellen Pope challenged the term Aging in Place as to whether it should really be called Aging In The Right Place.

This made me think.

There is so much energy and discussion regarding the topic of aging in place (the ability for someone to remain in their own home as they age) that I wondered whether we are actually putting pressure and expectations on individuals to live this way – even if it’s possibly not the right choice for them.

Here’s a few examples of what I’m suggesting;

Nutrition

When you’re older and living on your own, shopping and cooking can become a major challenge. When I think back, I can remember visiting my grandmother when she was living on her own and discovering she was eating only toast and tea for dinner. No fruits and vegetables, no protein, no good quality carbohydrates. I remember asking her why she didn’t eat more. She told me she really wasn’t hungry and she couldn’t be bothered to make anything else.

She was living independently in her own home however nutrition was an issue. I now wonder, would she possibly have been better living in a retirement community and eating meals with others? I’m not sure – but it might have been something worth considering.

Safety

We recently shared a blog post about aging in the suburbs and the fact that many of the homes built do not have the necessary safety features to support someone with mobility challenges.

It can be quite expensive to make these renovations. Rather than invest in these changes in someone’s current residence, could it potentially be a wiser move to relocate to a single story home or an apartment or complex built specifically for safe aging and eliminate the risk altogether?

Yes, there are many other things to consider before making a move – friends, family, community just to start – but we shouldn’t necessarily rule out any other options.

Loneliness

Loneliness is becoming an epidemic. As we have shared before – loneliness can be more dangerous to a person’s health then obesity and smoking. So living on your own in your own home however having very limited social interaction and support can be extremely dangerous to someone’s overall health and well being. The question then becomes is aging in isolation in your own home the right choice?

These are only a few things to consider when deciding where best to age. What I am just trying to demonstrate is that when it comes to where and how someone ages, there is no cookie cutter answer. No one size fits all.

We need to make sure that people have options as to how they age and live in the best environment and lifestyle that suits their own personal and individual needs. We need to ensure that we don’t just rally around a trend or make anyone feel obligated to follow along with something because “it’s what most people want or are doing”.

Like most things, open conversation and dialogue are necessary to really understand what someone really needs and wants.

This way we can try to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to age in the right place for them.

Here is the Aging In Place segment (we started the video where Ellen speaks);

Other Related Posts;

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.