“Aging in place” is a growing buzzword in senior living.

When seniors think about aging in place, they usually consider staying in their existing home until it is absolutely necessary to move out. But it doesn’t have to mean staying in an existing home.

Different retirement communities have different approaches, says Ken Paley, vice president of marketing at Episcopal Retirement Homes (ERH) in Cincinnati.

“Most will ask a resident to move out of their independent living apartment when they start needing some help and daily assistance with activities of daily living,” he says.

ERH’s Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee, both in Hyde Park, have a different philosophy.

“They believe that folks would rather stay in their apartment with their neighbors around and not go through the hassle of moving again,” he says. “And ERH believes that if the assistance services can be brought right to a resident’s apartment, why not?”

ERH calls the program “Enriched Living” and it provides options for residents who may prefer some support or assistance that enables them to fully enjoy their independent lifestyle in their own apartment.

There are customized packages for both hospitality and health services available, depending on what the needs of the resident are. Everything from assistance with eye drops to a staff member regularly checking in to room service to medication monitoring and reminders, Paley says.

ERH undertands why people can be hesitant to move into a retirement community. “It’s understandable why folks want to stay in a familiar setting and be close to neighbors who have become their friends over the years,” he says.

On the other side of the equation, however, is the upkeep and expense involved with maintaining a house. Then, if health care needs change, especially if they occur suddenly, it means critical decisions may have to be made for another move, often while the whole family is in crisis mode.

Another consideration is the expense for modifications to a home to make sure it is safe and accessible for people as they age.

The National Association of Home Builders’ website has a long checklist of aging-in-place considerations: It includes things such as minimum 36-inch wide hallways, adjustable or varied height counters and lever handle faucets in kitchens and baths.

On the other hand, Paley says, many older adults make a different choice and move to a retirement community while they are still active and healthy enough to enjoy it.

“They like the idea of leaving the worry of maintaining a home behind, and look forward to making new friends, trying some new hobbies, calling the concierge to arrange a car, taking a swim in the indoor pool right downstairs or maybe just enjoying having someone else plan and prepare dinner every night,” he says.

He says a frequent comment from retirement community residents is that they wish they had moved in sooner but were afraid of somehow losing their independence. They also frequently point out that there is some real peace of mind knowing that there are health care professionals close by if anything should happen, he says.