Why do you live where you live?
Have you given this much thought?
Perhaps your choice was based on:
• Access to amenities
• Proximity to family and friends
• Near schools, hospitals and your faith community.
Some thrive on the energy of downtown, while others need their backdoor to open into the great outdoors.
Regardless of the reasons why, we know that where we live is directly related to how we live. This principle remains true as we transition through various life stages.
There is much talk about ‘Aging In Place Of Choice.’ The key word here is ‘Choice.’ A North American Public Health official offered this definition:
‘Aging in place of choice is the ability of individuals to choose to live in their own communities for as long as possible, and to have access to home and community services that will support this ability.’
To be able to live in our own communities of choice for as long as possible serves us as individuals. It also serves our communities, and ultimately provides the most fiscally responsible solution.
Aging in Place of Choice is Good For Us
We all want to maintain our independence for as long as possible. According to CMHC, 85% of age 55+ planned to stay in their own home as they age. Remaining in our own home and continuing to live in our own communities contributes to our ongoing need for affiliation, and our desire to be connected. Feeling welcome and having a sense of autonomy ultimately enables us to keep our dignity. Research shows that overall health improves when we feel secure in our community and have a sense of belonging. Furthermore, seniors are more likely than younger people to have strong ties to and identify with their local community.
Aging in Place of Choice is Good For Our Communities
Seniors are engaged in their communities and make a significant contribution. Should our senior community terminate their volunteer participation, it has been suggested that the economy would likely collapse upon the sheer fiscal pressure of trying to replace those functions with paid positions. Did you know that seniors contribute the highest average annual hours to volunteer activities than any other age group? They are the age-group to most likely get out and vote, and to actively lobby for local change.
Experience Counts! Our communities need to access the wealth of experience, knowledge, skills and expertise of our senior population. It is called ‘Social Capital.’ A community’s ability to draw upon this ‘treasure trove of assets’ contributes to its long-term stability and the quality of the civic vision, planning and development.
Aging in Place of Choice is Good For Our Pocketbooks
Finally, aging in our place of choice costs less.
The Ministry of Health sponsored a national study on the cost-effectivess of home care in comparison to residential care. The analysis of the cost data was clear. Whether you factored in only the cost for formal paid care, or the cost of both formal paid care combined with the cost of informal family care, the results were the same. Community care costs less than residential care.
We have seen that the ability to ‘Age in Place of Choice’ contributes to the strength and health of the individual, our community, and our fiscal pocketbook. In the next blog, we’ll look at some of the current housing challenges and how to create Age-Friendly Environments, Homes, and Communities, so that we can Age in Place of Choice.
Rhonda Latreille, MBA, CPCA
Founder & CEO