Community or Place: A Look at Our Needs Vs. Our Wants

To build from my last post, which looked at the importance of connection as we age, I wanted to expand more on the key elements of successful “Aging in Place” and how the principles for building a community provide the alternative many are seeking.


While there is no universally accepted definition of Aging in Place, many experts suggest the same general list of 4 key elements that are needed to make remaining in your home both possible and desirable:

  1. Affordable, secure, and physically accessible housing.
  2. Affordable, safe, and reliable transportation alternatives.
  3. Opportunities to engage in social experiences.
  4. Options for in-home healthcare and assistance.

Of course, when we break these down we can see all of the intricate details that go into each.

Aging in Place isn’t always an option for everyone. One of the biggest challenges is the design of the home. Homes we bought as young families may not meet the same needs when we are older. Upstairs bedrooms, small bathrooms, and high kitchen cabinets can become big hurdles when our bodies simply don’t function the way they used to. And to retrofit a traditional home to be more accessible automatically creates an affordability problem.

Many older adults also can’t or choose not to drive. If someone is living alone they must rely on friends, family, or services to get them from place to place. Certainly the new economy that has allowed resource sharing to become a business model, like Uber and Lyft for transportation, can change the dynamic a little. But is it enough?

As I mentioned in the last post, isolation is a problem for many older adults and it can have deadly consequences. Social activities while aging in place require extensive planning and more money. It isn’t impossible but it can be much more difficult.

And lastly, the cost of in-home healthcare and other assistance can also become prohibitive if you’re trying to live on a fixed income in your newly renovated accessible home.

So what is the alternative?

Aging in Community, rather than place, allows for multiple people to pool resources make things more affordable, safe, accessible, and social.

And you can start the process by adopting some principles that can help you develop the right community for your needs and the needs of those around you.

Aging in Community Principles

An ideal Aging in Community Neighborhood intends by design and purpose to:

  1. Include people of all ages, especially elders.
  2. Uphold a lifestyle that is ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable.
  3. Enhance wellness of the mind, body and spirit.
  4. Provide access to the home and community.
  5. Encourage interdependence and reliance on one another–within the community and in the greater society.
  6. Support opportunities at every age for civic and social engagement, lifelong education, and creative expression.

Principle courtesy of Janice Blanchard from Aging Better Together.

There is really only one option for aging in place, but there are infinite options for aging in community. So where will you begin?


  1. So why is it so hard to find this situation! I’ve been looking for a while now, not finding what I want. Cohousing communities tend to be the closest to what I want, but most are too expensive. I do love all the principles you list in this article

  2. Perhaps we could expand the focus on “not Moms” to include “no longer Moms” to include those many women whose adult children have abandoned them. These are women who live and die alone and lonely.

  3. Sharon – thank you for your comment. I am the co-administrator of the NotMom Summit. I think you may be on to something, I just wonder if it should be included under the banner of The NotMoms. We created this even so women who had never experienced having a child at all could feel safe with one another. But I think there should be a place for you and others who have experienced abandonment from their adult children to go. I did a little searching and I found a website called that has resources and blog posts. I also saw Facebook pages on the topic. I highly recommend that women in this situation reach out for support from others who have had this experinece. As a NotMom, I can’t begin to imagine what that experience is like and I would make poor support in that situation.

Women For Living in Community