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Aging in Place Redefined

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

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The concept of Aging in Place was studied in the early 1980’s and has since evolved into various interpretations as cultures, environments, costs, and academics have changed. Today, this concept is used in conversations and marketing that an older adult wants to age in place in their brick-and-mortar home and be as independent as long as possible.  What we don’t hear or see, is how you define home and independence. The opportunity we have today is to redefine what it means to age in place so we can be open to the possibilities of life, local resources, and various environments to support our aging journey. 

The popular phrase “a house doesn’t make a home,” resonates with me every time I hear the phrase Aging in Place used inappropriately. Many of us have experienced changes in our lives where we adapt and change our environment to support our next chapter, or future needs, so we can live a happy and full life. This doesn’t change when you are an older adult.   

Regardless of how old you are, you can answer, what does home mean to you? How does that definition change as you age? If your answer is the brick-and-mortar of the current home you live in, does it support your personal wellness such as social support, intellectual growth, spiritual fulfillment, and physical wellness? If or when it comes time that your missing balance and engagement in your life, or your home provides more stress, negativity, isolation, etc. then it is an opportunity to reevaluate the definition of home and make a change to support your spirit. The creativity to meet your needs, adapt your space to remain as independent as possible, and fill your personal wellness can be possible. 

Home to many is comfort, support, a place where you can let your hair down and be you, choice, flexibility, purpose, a place to socialize and entertain, challenge your experiences, enjoy your passions and hobbies, be your best self, and a place that brings you peace. Throughout our lives when we don’t feel ‘at home’ we always evaluate and make a change to protect our well-being. Do you feel at home? If you are a caregiver to someone else, is there balance in your loved one’s life? We hope the answer is always yes. Let us take the opportunity to redefine Aging in Place by stating “I want to age in a place where I feel my best self.” 

We have one life to live. We don’t know what tomorrow brings or if life is going to throw us another curveball. Humans are resilient. What we choose to do is all we can control today. When the unexpected happens, we may have to modify our environment, we may need to ask for a little assistance, and we may have to stop something we used to do in the past. That is okay. Be your own advocate, be protective of your passion, time, purpose, and the important parts of life that you enjoy so the changes you make in the environment you choose to call home adds to and enhances your lifestyle and doesn’t take away from you being you. 

The fact is, we are aging every moment and every day. This will not change. If we admit and mindfully embrace that we will be older tomorrow, we can then start being open to possibilities when it comes to aging. You can start taking back control and choice in how you live and plan your life. There is no such number or research that shows that when you hit any specific age, it is ‘only downhill from here.’ Research, through the MacArthur Foundation, proves that 70% of the way we age is due to lifestyle choices. With the right mindset, and intentionally focusing on what you can do, and surrounding yourself with the right support system and environment, you have the power to age happier and healthier every day. 

Jacqueline Sander is the executive director & CEO of Birches Assisted Living & Memory Care in Clarendon Hills, the only certified Montessori Inspired Lifestyle senior living community in Illinois. The Birches is a locally owned-operated successful aging focused community, with quality care and long-tenured leadership, that has been supporting local families since 1999. For article requests, email the author at or via

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