Time does not stand still and neither does the concept of aging. Over a year ago I read an article that harshly criticized the idea that people should be supported in staying in their homes as they age. The author had quoted the nasty expression, ‘rotting in place’, to express his disgust at the idea of hordes of older people clinging to their deteriorating multiple level homes in the suburbs and falling into pits of hellish isolation. He thought the idea of aging in place was way over sold.
So now I am reviewing a Home Advisor survey that states 60% of people over 55 intend to stay in their home but 45% are not interested in learning about remodeling services and only 7% agree to a free in home evaluation. The full age range of those surveyed was not given. This was a very small survey generated primarily trying to sell repair/remodeling services and may have been met with a healthy dose of sales resistance. But the heart of the matter is that the response to the no thank you answer was to change the name of what they were promoting to ‘thriving in place’ – not aging in place. Another marketing angle in the longevity economy is born.
I have mixed reaction to this. Having moved to a wonderful live-on-one level rancher in a friendly neighborhood near a lively and cozy downtown, I could say that we are thriving in place. A lot of planning went into that choice to transplant after retirement to be near family. It comes with the hope that the aging part will have fewer challenges and more rewards.
The momentum, the energy, in the expression ‘thriving in place’ should not be lost. The survey is flawed in several ways, people as young as 55 are not ready to think about grab bars and walk in showers. They are thinking about pushing through their careers and saving for the future. Even 60 year old folks certainly do not think of themselves as disabled or even as old.
It seems we keep pushing the who is really old label forward and there are concrete reasons for that. Today’s 70 year old is not like those of their parent’s generation. Game changers of an accident or medical crises can always mix that up big time. Yet the attitude of living in the now and enjoying everything life has to offer is certainly not a bad thing.
At the one end of the aging continuum you have the oldest most vulnerable seniors who may need intervention, at the other end many who think they are still invincible. In the middle there are those of us for whom where time seems frozen. Maybe we are just conserving energy. If you want to think of it as thriving not aging, then be my guest.