According to multiple studies, the vast majority of Americans want to age in place, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as “[living] in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” It’s no surprise this idea is so popular—as a society, we have begun moving away from institutional living and back towards our homes and communities.
But if I didn’t know the definition of “aging in place” and someone asked me if I wanted to do it, I would probably say no. Honestly, aging in place doesn’t sound that great. The term suffers the same mistreatment as many ideas and catchphrases we use to talk about the latter years of our lives—it’s negative, joyless and lacks nuance.
So “aging in place” has a branding problem—who cares? I think we all should. Language shapes the way we see the world and even helps us recognize objects, and my suspicion is that we are narrowing and stifling what aging can be aging by the way we describe it.