Why Living in Place is Today’s Hottest Trend
You’re only as old as you feel, the saying goes. Today’s seniors – embracing a lifestyle full of fitness and activity – feel that the saying is true. And they’re proving it by staying in the home where they raised their family. Unlike generations past, when the moment the kids had “grown and flown” signaled that it was time to downsize and even move into assisted living situations, today’s boomer generation are opting to embrace aging in place.
Old Age? What Old Age?
One of the reasons why aging in place is so attractive to boomers is that our perception of what “old age” is has changed. It used to be that “middle age” was when you hit 30 – gone “over the hill,” as we’d say. The label “old age” was once used whenever someone turned 50. Can you imagine? In fact, most people feel about 20% younger than they really are, according to a Michigan State study. And this change in mindset actually has a wonderful side effect.
“People who report feeling younger actually tend to live longer and have healthier lives – and they don’t tend to have as much of a pattern of decline,” says William Chopick, assistant professor of psychology who initiated the Michigan State study. He says that because we’re living longer, our view of old age has significantly altered.
A study from Trinity College in Dublin pointed out how perceptions of aging can affect health. Adults who viewed aging negatively, for instance, walk more slowly, have worsening cognitive abilities and were at greater risk for multiple health problems. This negative perception stems from societal attitudes which judge aging harshly. However, boomers are at the forefront of challenging and transcending these harmful and destructive attitudes. And one of the ways they’re doing so is by staying in their homes as they age.
But why age in place?
A Chase Bank survey of 753 boomers found that 52% plan to remain in their current homes, which is certainly an indication of the hot, new trend of aging in place.
There are several reasons why this trend is particularly attractive to the boomer generation:
- More of them are retiring later. According to the Labor Department, about 20% of Americans 65 and older are working or looking for jobs, up from 12.1% in 1996. They’re remaining in the workforce because their life expectancy has outstripped earlier generations, which means they’ll need a more substantial nest egg to fund a longer retirement period when they do stop working.
- Many millennials are returning home to live with their parents, putting off the time when they’ll have to plunk down a down payment on their own homes. Many even have struggled to begin their careers, especially those graduating between 2016 and 2020, so they come back to the parental roof to save on rent until they can find their feet.
- Boomers with grandchildren love having space which allows the kids to play and run around, rather than trying to entertain them in a cramped apartment where there’s no room.
- There is a scarcity of smaller starter homes that would be attractive for those who wish to downsize, but not move into an apartment, condo, or assisted living situation. Because of a housing shortage of more compact homes, smaller homes currently carry a larger price tag. So any anticipated savings that would ordinarily come from selling a bigger house and moving into something smaller is substantially reduced or even wiped out entirely.
But among the main reasons for aging in place is that the boomer generation wants to defeat the negative connotations of aging. Staying in the home where they were in their prime contributes to their feelings of health and well-being. Yet the smart boomer recognizes that it will require some remodeling to their homes to make them safe and comfortable as they grow older.
Staying in Place = Remodeling
Planning for the eventualities of old age is simply smart. No matter what your perception of your age might be, recognizing that you may need to adapt to outsmart your body’s deteriorating condition can mean remodeling your home to maintain a more youthful standard of living.
As you age, physical changes can occur:
- Worsening eyesight and hearing
- Less strength due to reduced muscle mass
- Less physical and mental endurance
- Decreased mobility and flexibility
- Loss of balance while walking or doing everyday activities
- Weakening bones, which can result in broken bones if you fall
- Increased risk of illness
- Onset of mental deterioration due to Alzheimer’s or senility
As you look around your home, consider your daily activities and how growing older may affect them. Certain parts of your home can create obstacles as you grow older, especially the stairs, kitchens, and bathrooms. You’ll want to consider how to remodel your current home in order to make it safer.
MrSteam, with our laser focus on bathrooms, has a number of recommendations on “Creating a Fabulous and Safe Bathroom for All Ages.” This blog post will help you create a space that will grow old along with you. It outlines critical safety considerations such as providing yourself with enough space to move, lighting to compensate for failing eyesight, non-slip flooring, and innovations to showers and bathtubs, including low- to no-threshold showers, shower seats, and walk-in tubs. And if you’re turned off by the idea of grab bars – something that becomes critical for seniors as they grow older – you can actually plan for them without having to put them in place right now.
Staying in Place = Renewing
These remodeling projects can actually be incredibly energizing! There are ways to introduce innovations into your home that will give you new vitality and verve as you dismiss the outmoded concept of old age – including adding a steam shower into your bath, if you don’t have one already.
Adding steam to your bathroom can provide you with years of luxury to come and is especially useful in relieving the aches and pains of older muscles. If you suffer from arthritis it can alleviate those symptoms, and will add to your flexibility and mobility, especially if your morning routine includes steam. See the blog post, Physical Therapist Praises the Benefits of Steam, to learn more. In addition, it can help you to a better night’s sleep – which can be a blessing as you grow older and find yourself waking more often in the wee hours.
So if you plan to stay in your home as you grow older, having embraced this hot new trend, MrSteam is here to enhance your wellness routine in all stages of life. After all, you’re only as old as you feel!