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Publication #FAR6061

Aging in Place Is a New Life Stage1

Carol Church2

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Many families today face tough decisions about how to assist elderly relatives when they need some extra help with daily living. Unsurprisingly, many such adults want to remain in their own homes where they feel most comfortable.

Fortunately, more and more older adults can “age in place,” continuing to live in their homes “safely, independently, and comfortably” (CDC, 2010). However, when the older person is frail or disabled, professional care providers may become necessary. This transition to receiving care can be an “upheaval” in the older person’s life (Barnett, Hale, & Gauld, 2012, p. 361). In fact, researchers writing in the journal Aging and Society suggest that aging in place with professional care is actually a “new life stage” that merits careful consideration.

Beginning to receive care at home is a three-step process. First comes separation from independent living, when the older person is assessed to determine if they are eligible for in-home care. The second step is a threshold, where modifications are made to the home and the older person begins to adapt to using a care provider. Personal relationships may suffer during this time due to health and mobility restrictions (Barnett, Hale, & Gauld, 2012).

Ideally, the third step is reconnective home care, where the care worker forms a personal, caring relationship that includes the elderly in care decisions, and empowers the elder to manage their home and personal life as much as possible ((Barnett, Hale, & Gauld, 2012, p. 370). Paying close attention to and valuing this crucial relationship between older adult and the caregiver are crucial to supporting continued independence at home.

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Barnett, P. Hale, B. & Gauld, R. (2012). Social inclusion through ageing-in-place with care? Aging and Society, 32, 361-378. doi:10.1017/So144686X11000341.



This document is FAR6061, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date March 14, 2012, as program 1880. Published on EDIS February 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.