Is Staying in Your Home the Best Option for Aging-in-Place?

03/03/2021 Susan O'Leary

Historical and projected life expectancy in the United States has continued to increase. In addition,     10, 000 Baby Boomers are retiring each day. These two realities combined, create larger issues, such as “Will There Be Enough Housing Options for Me When I’m Ready” and “Where is the Right Place to Age?”.  Many people, when asked, say they would prefer to age in place in their home. While this option might sound ideal, there are many factors to take into consideration when determining where to live safely as you age.  

Let’s Take A Look at Three Main Considerations:

Cost

When you compare the cost of staying home to the costs of moving into a community, according to Brad C. Breeding, President and Co-Founder of MyLifeSite, and nationally recognized author and speaker, “the savings are often less than expected.” First, you must address any modifications to the home that may be necessary. This is tricky because it’s difficult to predict how your needs will change in the future. For example, are there stairs to negotiate and are doorways and hallways wide enough? Is the height of the stove and cabinets in the kitchen appropriate? Do bathrooms have safety features such as grab bars and a walk-in shower with room for a shower seat if needed? Who will maintain the lawn and gardens? You must also consider the social, emotional, and health needs which will require attention. How will you stay socially active? Who will provide transportation to appointments and other errands? How will you alert someone if you fall and can’t get up? If your cognitive functioning declines, who will help you manage your finances and medications? Who will prepare your meals if you are unable to? Who will assist you with bathing and dressing if you are not able to do it yourself? If you require rehab care, what are your options? Have you interviewed a care coordinator or case manager? Have you interviewed home health care workers and do you know what costs are associated with in-home care? Often times the cost for 24-hour in-home care far exceeds the cost of living in a community. Who will oversee the caregiver’s scheduling, payments, and ensure the care received is sufficient? Will you rely on family and friends to care for you and your home? Ninety percent of adults who age-in-place at home require assistance from family, friends, or volunteers according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office. Which family member or friend can bear the burden of lost wages to assist you? And finally, have you budgeted for repairs and maintenance costs for your home over time? As you can see, the costs for aging-in- place at home can be significant.

Familiarity

It is a common belief that staying in your home is the most comfortable option. However, that is not always the case. And the longer one waits, the more difficult the change can be.  In his book What’s the Deal with Retirement Communities?, Brad Breeeding shares that  “My personal observation is that the longer people wait to make a move, the harder it becomes and the more likely the adult children or others will be faced with making difficult decisions.”  When you wait too long, the process of selecting a community can become urgent and possibly traumatic. Moving into a community when you are healthy allows you the time and opportunity to develop relationships with other residents and staff, helping you become more familiar with your new setting. 

Independence

Most people say the reason they want to age-in-place at home is that they want to maintain their independence for as long as possible. However, living alone frequently leads to isolation, and according to Breeding, without proper planning,  there is actually a risk of becoming less independent at home. Family and friends are often still working and/or in school, keeping them too busy to care for another home or person.  A 2012 Forbes Magazine article titled “The Grim Impact of Loneliness and Living Alone” cites a study where 43% of the roughly 1,600 participants reported feeling lonely. Loneliness can lead to depression and a general decline in health. As people age, mobility becomes limited and the risk of social isolation, inactivity, and loneliness can increase.  With the restrictions implemented during the Covid19 Pandemic, isolation and loneliness have increased substantially for people across all ages. 

University of Florida professor and gerontologist Stephen M. Golant who wrote Aging in the Right Placea comprehensive guide to housing and care options for older adults says that people evaluate buying a toaster or coffeemaker more than they do their housing and long-term care choices. By planning ahead, your costs, comfort, and independence can be more secure. 

Call us today to learn more about our PCRC, or Personalized Care Resort Community. Our professional team can answer your questions about how community living can not only enhance life, it can also be an affordable option for care. 

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Author

Susan O'Leary

Susan O'Leary, Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer at Kensington Gardens, Susan O'Leary brings top-notch skills in communication, management, and compassion to her multi-faceted role. Dedicated to the well-being of her team and the community, she seamlessly helps run complex details of Kensington Gardens with a brilliant and endearing touch. Backed by her Master's degree and experience as a School Principal, Susan relates well with diversified members as well as readers in her blog entries, full of insight and wit.