For as long as any of us can remember, it has been a standard consideration for people who’ve lived most of their lives in colder climes to move someplace warm to live out the rest of their years. For others for whom warmer weather is not as much a consideration as they age, they are often interested in moving closer to adult children and grandchildren in order to spend as much time with both, now that they’re not as (likely) consumed by work responsibilities; in many of those cases, the move to be nearer to adult children is made out of necessity, so that the younger generation may more readily act in the capacity of caregivers. Regardless of the specific reasons for moving, seniors have long adhered to a pattern of relocating from the homes in which they’ve resided for decades…but that trend may be changing, courtesy of technology. Recent data suggests that many older folks have actually wanted to stay put, thank you very much, but the constraints associated with life as it used to be lived had limited the appeal of doing so. Now, however, with the numerous evolutions that have been visited upon society, largely courtesy of the Internet, the ability to remain in the beloved family home…to “age in place”…has become a more viable option for many.
A recent study done by Merrill Lynch, in partnership with Age Wave, found that 65% of retirees are living in the best home of their lives, and would prefer to stay put. Particularly revealing is study data that showed a majority of seniors…reputedly technology-averse…are interested in any technologies that will help them to remain in their homes, including technologies that can control appliances, monitor their health while in the home, and allow them to remain connected to friends and family members in highly interactive ways.
Years ago, I was speaking to a retired relative who lives in northern New England, an area he especially loves in the spring and fall seasons, about the significant snowfalls they’d been having where he resides, and he said to me, “You know what? When you no longer have to get up and go to work in the morning, or get the little ones off to school, it doesn’t really matter if it’s snowing; if I need to go anywhere, I can generally wait until the roads are plowed, and people are already at their destinations, and my life is fine.” What’s more, in his case, he has a service that removes snow from his driveway and walkway, so, in truth, there’s really nothing about the white stuff that presents a problem for him. The point is that when one has the ability to easily address whatever challenges may stand in the way of remaining in the home and general location in which one has lived for many decades, the inclination to leave, out of deference to those challenges, understandably declines.
Beyond the technology benefits previously noted, there are plenty more…like the numerous opportunities now that allow people to work from home. Websites like FlexJobs have greatly enhanced the ability of people to find quality work-from-home opportunities, and so those seniors who are not retired, in the classic sense, and need to work, are now no longer faced with the Hobson’s choice of not working at all, or getting up every day and trudging off to the workplace (assuming they can find someone who will hire them at that age); now, there are plentiful numbers of opportunities for these folks to work in place, while they age in place.
The Internet has revolutionized so much of how we do things, and now we can include how the population ages among the innumerable components of the life experience re-formed by technology. Perhaps more people, all along, would have preferred to remain in their principal homes as they age, but the difficulty, historically, in being able to deftly and competently address age-related challenges has long-hidden that reality; we can’t know, for sure. What we do know, however, is that now that technology is providing seniors with the tools to better negotiate the typical challenges associated with aging without having to relocate…it seems very likely that more folks will simply sit tight, continue to enjoy the homes and communities they have come to love, and gracefully age in place.
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