The Community Benefits of Aging in Place

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

What would it mean to you, if you, your parents, or your grandparents could ‘age in place’? What would it mean to your community if your neighbors could ‘age in place’?

As you can see from the definition above, there are many benefits and reasons to plan for aging in place. At Propel Studio we’d like to focus on how investing in aging in place benefits Portland, Oregon on the housing affordability, sustainability and community levels.

If the CDC’s definition isn’t clear to you, picture a residence where a person could live from the cradle to the grave. It’s a home where both a little baby and an elderly grandmother could live in comfort and health. Architecturally, this means designing a space that is comfortable for people of all sizes and abilities. It means designing healthy indoor environments, low maintenance homes, barrier free movement, and considering how kitchens, bathrooms, doors, appliances, etc. can be laid out for anyone to use easily.


What impact would a home like this have on your family? Imagine the affordability of buying one home that could serve your family for generations with only a few updates and minor renovations. Imagine the stability of having a place that generations of your family could call ‘home.’ It could mean a home or property that accommodates multiple generations living together and helping each other as the grow and age. What impact would a home like this have on your community? Imagine the beautiful diversity and stability of having young people, old people, and people from different cultures investing long-term in your community. It would offer the ability for people to interact, learn from another, and share responsibilities like watching children or caring for the elderly.

What impact would a home like this have on the sustainability of our City? Imagine investing in maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure to serve our aging in place community instead of shipping our grandparents out to nursing homes in the suburbs. It could mean better transportation networks for everyone, safer streets and public spaces. It also would require investment with long-term thinking, trying to design and build places that will last and be accommodating people of all abilities.

Obviously, we’re strong believers in providing the access and amenities necessary to help our neighbors continue rich, full lives even as they age. It’s an investment in the richness of our City. It’s an investment in the human capital that makes our city a vibrant place to live.


We also believe strongly that investing in aging in place projects is good for developers and provides another piece to the missing middle housing puzzle. In fact, we’re working with clients to imagine new ways to turn existing, neighborhood assets into co-housing for the elderly. We are addressing this through small scale houses and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) sprinkled throughout our neighborhoods, as well as through the design of larger buildings that become homes that care for the elderly while maintaining their presence in the larger community.

We’re looking at ways to plan and renovate homes that are already integrated into great Portland neighborhoods so that a mix of generations, even our most infirm, can contribute and enjoy the benefits of being part of a community.

As we continue to work with clients and community partners on issues like aging in place, we’ll continue to pursue the community, economic and environmental benefits of strengthening our community. It’s at the heart of what we mean when we say: “Designing beautiful spaces for people and the planet.”

If you’d like to know more about how to plan for aging in place, give us a call. If you have a home that you think may be adaptable either for yourself or as a co-housing opportunity, contact us for a consultation. We’ll be happy to talk about ways we can improve our community together.