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Monday, October 24, 2016

When Aging in Place Means Aging in Community

I’m pleased to report that the Aging in Place conversation that started with my July 30 blogpost continues. People who agreed to fill out and return a questionnaire on the topic have not only done so, but forwarded it on to friends and family throughout the country, people living in cities, small towns, suburbs, and rural areas.

And just last week I held the first in-person AIP discussion at a local support group for gay seniors. In November, the Budlong branch of the Chicago Public Library is hosting a round-table discussion on the subject.

At the same time, the articles with an aging-in-place focus continue to show up in print and online, including an October 14 piece in the New York Time’s Business Section, “The Future of Retirement Communities: Walkable and Urban,” by John F. Wasik.

(Please note: I do not believe that “aging in place” and “retirement” go hand in hand. Many Boomers & Beyonders interested in the AIP process are still working and plan to do so indefinitely.)

There are several important points made in Wasik's article, and for me they start with the phrase “aging in community” used by one of the people he interviewed, Ben Brown: “We realized ‘aging in place’ means a lot more than just a comfortable house,” Mr. Brown said. “So we began thinking more about ‘aging in community.’”

This broader use of aging in place makes the process a genuine reflection of what we value in a place beyond the walls of a particular residence. If understood from that perspective, then our search begins with a clear understanding of those values. 

For Mr. Brown, 70, and his 66 year-old wife, Christine, that meant urban and walkable, a community where they could live comfortably without a car. The place they chose? Not the obvious major urban centers that might first come to mind, but West Asheville, North Carolina.

To read more about what Wasik describes as “clearly a growing demand for walkable, urban retirement communities” no matter where they are situated:

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