What Is Aging in Place? Confusions and Contradictions

Ann Forsyth, Jennifer Molinsky

Aging in place is a policy goal for many governments and a personal goal for numerous older people. But what does it mean? Drawing on both scholarly and gray literature, this article outlines seven themes underlying definitions of aging in place. Some are descriptive: never moving, staying put for as long as possible, or remaining in the same vicinity. Two are related to care: staying out of a nursing home or receiving progressively higher levels of care in the same residential care facility without moving. Others are more normative approaches: aging in place as a policy ideal or as an exercise of choice. Definitions have implications for policy debates, urban planning activities, development approaches, and personal decisions. Recognizing that the term has many different definitions and nuances will help clarify policy, planning, and development options.