The Hype of Aging in Place -- So Bad for So Many

Greenwald Realty Team


February 10, 2023

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The articles and tech industry focus on ‘aging in place’ and fear. 

And it’s not unlike the ‘I’ve Fallen and I can’t Get Up’ fear. AARP fuels it with survey results (77% of the 50+ want to age in place). Free-lance writers follow up with an Aging in Place story citing the survey. It capitalizes on the recent CES with a laundry list of tech offerings that could help with fears -- like sensors, medication management, motion sensors and smart watches to mitigate fear of falling. And AARP helps add brand recognition to the term ‘Age Tech’ with a collaborative of companies at the Nexus of Longevity and Technology to deal with health issues and mitigate fear. But wait…

What if aging in place is media-fueled, but bad long-term for many (most) people? 

What could go wrong? Perhaps aging will be solo – no spouse, partner, children or nearby siblings. Perhaps it will be in a rural area, on a property with considerable land, but no nearby services. Perhaps it will be in a home that needs ‘age-proofing’ -- a large house with stairs, no nearby relatives and no first-floor bedroom. Perhaps that retrofit is not affordable. Perhaps the house is old and requires significant maintenance. Perhaps the grounds are too much to mow, plow or traverse up or down. 

Who should be worried – it’s not those aged 50-65. 

The odds are good these days that the 50-65 are still working and can afford where they live. AARP’s 50+ segmentation misrepresents who is really worried about 'aging in place' – and that means 65+ and (way) beyond. They could worry about a too-big house they can’t sell. A house they can't maintain, but panic about leaving -- they too read the same hype. So they stick it out, reading the upbeat stories in Fortune and then not-so-upbeat articles in Time Magazine (with its insulting title). They have high hopes about AgeTech -- how it will help them stay in their homes. If they can afford it, they buy suites of sensors to help -- otherwise their families, ever-optimistic, spend the money. They are hopeful about the new technology designed to help them.

Finally, the struggle to stay independent, aging in place, gets to be too much. 

Home care agencies are contacted, transportation providers of rides to-from appointments arrive, food is delivered, and other services are brought in. The numbers of care recipients in home care, senior living, and adult day services has likely crossed 5 million by now. The number of home care providers is exploding due to demand, much of it from people who should be in senior living or nursing homes but they (or their families) are too stubborn or lack the cash to make the move. So the average move-in age to assisted living is 85 – and the majority of residents are women, now exhausted by living alone. They look forward to eating meals with others, served by others. Many will say they should have moved earlier. Contrast that with the home care recipient. She is also an aging woman – and the only person she meets during an average day is the worker. But she is 'aging in place.'

#aginginplace #agetech #fallprevention #falldetection #rightsizing #downsizing #seniorcommunity

Laurie M. Orlov, a tech industry veteran, writer, speaker and elder care advocate, is the founder of Aging and Health Technology Watch -- market research, trends, blogs and reports that provide thought leadership, analysis and guidance about health and aging-related technologies and services that enable boomers and seniors to sustain and improve their quality of life. 

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