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Aging in place

As my parents approach the end of their careers, they’ve sold the house, torn down the cottage, and are building…

By Karen Moxley , in The Perfect Wrinkle: A commentary on society's fear of aging , on February 5, 2009 Tags: ,

As my parents approach the end of their careers, they’ve sold the house, torn down the cottage, and are building their dream retirement home on the lake. Throughout the building process, my parents have been very thoughtful about outfitting the new house for their senior years. All of the necessities will be located on the ground floor including the laundry, master bedroom, and office. As my parents age, the upstairs will be solely reserved for visiting grandkids, with agile joints, healthy hips and knobby knees.

As it turns out, my parents are part of a growing trend called ‘aging in place.’ According to a recent article in the Washington Times 89 per cent of boomer-homeowners want to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes and communities as they grow old.Dreading the sterile environment of an ‘assisted living’ residence, my parents joke about the inevitable remodels the house will undergo as they enter new decades.

In their 60s, they’ll swap the master-bathroom corner-tub for a senior citizen’s bathtub of the walk-in variety. In their 70s they’ll install stability bars and high-seated, cushioned toilet seats. In their 80s, they’ll replace door knobs with lever-handles, and in their 90s, (God-willing), they’ll adjust the height of the kitchen appliances, to save their slouching and grouching backs.

‘Aging in place’ is a phenomenon sweeping the boomer generation. With 4000 boomers retiring in the US everyday, home remodels for an aging population has become a huge market. The US even has an organization called the National Aging In Place Council. The Council’s mission is to “encourage senior citizens, recent retirees, and baby boomers to be proactive in planning for their future housing and care needs.”

The National Aging Council promotes a wide array of elderly-friendly household products on their website, including an “amplified phone with caller ID”, the “Beam ‘N Read Hands-Free Magnifying Light” and even the often sought-after “Sterling 303 Bathtub Lift”.

With all of the gadgets, and re-model ideas available to today’s aging boomers, it’s no wonder ‘aging in place’ is becoming so widespread. Unless independent living becomes in no way possible, why would anyone want to trade their own bed, couch and private bathroom for the crowded, diaper-scented communal living environment of a nursing home?

My parent’s new retirement home is slatted for completion in the Spring. I’m thinking of getting them a housewarming gift. After much thought and intensive deliberation, I’ve decided that nothing says “welcome home” like a brand new “High-Reach Easy-Change Light Bulb Kit”. I know they’ll just love it!