Ageing in Place: An Envisioning for Us All.

Right now thousands of older adult children of older adult parents are in decision-making mode, discussing the options for the best quality living in later life – move to an assisted living or a so-called retirement residence, or stay and accommodate living in your own home, or downsize to a smaller own home. In the case of the latter two, depending on what age and stage or condition a person is in, we call it ageing in place.

If you have followed the dialogue and trends on ageing in place as I have for several years now, you will know that it is a multi-faceted subject, which includes so many interconnected parts, from overall urban planning and home design, to home health care delivery and assistive technologies, from caregiving and social connectedness, to community access to public services. So it is with happy expectation that the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) at Ryerson in Toronto is holding a one-day comprehensive conference on November 23, 2017 – Envisioning Ageing in Place.

Happy expectation, in that after the wide-ranging NIA conference last November, the organization has taken a drilled down approach to one subject. The fact that the theme of technology and ageing in place appears to be absent from the preliminary agenda is not bothersome in the sense that while it cannot be excluded from the equation, it certainly gets more than its share of attention at other designated events.

While technologies for ageing in place will likely thread discussions at this conference, someone might say that such technologies are still in a nascent state of development. The other factors as mentioned above need more focus, in particular for me, right where it counts on the human social level, we need to better understand how communities are going to look over the next few decades.

How will all of this reflect on the real estate industry, home design and social services and, moreover what will the cultural and inter-generational mix of our society become – what will our neighbourhoods become?

Careful, are you sure your kids should envision this?

Yet this conversation isn’t limited to the current segments of population over 75 or 80, nor should it be limited to a discussion of what “ageing Boomers” will want in the envisioning of the options. By 2020, the Gen X cohort who will then be starting their mid-50’s will be having these same conversations about ageing in place with their older adult parents. And let’s not discount the fact that by that same year millennials entering their 40’s will too be pulled into the conversation.

One of the opening paragraphs in the NIA conference agenda is a question: How will our society prepare to support older Canadians to live independently in their homes and communities? The point is that “we are the they”! By all accounts in my book, this is an “all the way down the generational line” conversation.

If it were my conference to run, I would have a panel of people in their 20’s and 30’s, and interview them about their observations about the current status of ageing in place versus institutionalized living. You should not assume that they are not listening and watching how their parents and grandparents are behaving, perhaps storing it quietly in their minds – how this is all going to play out when their turn comes around as older adults.

What future do we all want for interconnected home and community living? One more question for everyone to consider in recoding a longevity society for all ages.                      


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