“The Many Meanings of ‘Aging in Place’: What Is Aging in Place? Confusions and Contradictions” – Housing Matters

aging in place

by Ann Forsyth and Jennifer Molinsky

“It’s unclear where baby boomers, America’s largest generation, will choose to live as they age. Will they want to stay in their homes or move to assisted living facilities? Will they want to stay in the communities where they raised families or seek different types of communities and climates? Because of this age group’s size, their housing choices will have major implications for local housing markets. Already, policymakers, housing advocates, and researchers are trying to understand the diversity of their housing choices.

“To shed light on this diversity, a pair of researchers set out to document the various ways the phrase ‘aging in place’ is used in the research, policy, and advocacy literature and the policy solutions different uses might suggest. The authors inventoried literature by searching for articles with the phrase ‘aging in place’ (and its various spellings and hyphenations) on Google, Google Scholar, and Web of Science. Then, they sorted the definitions by difference of use, context, and underlying assumptions and motivations.

“Key findings

“The researchers identified seven distinct definitions for ‘aging in place’:

  • Three definitions—“never move,” “stay put as long as possible,” and ‘stay in the same vicinity’—put the emphasis on place and where a person wants to live.
  • Two definitions—’stay out of nursing homes’ and ‘not move between aged care facilities’—focus on the services and care people need.
  • Two definitions—’have choices’ and ‘live out a multifaceted policy ideal’—emphasize individual choice and autonomy.”

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