Pros and Cons of Aging in Place
87% of seniors are hoping to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives. Aging in place is one of the biggest trends in senior living. As alluring as the comfort of home is though, many seniors will reach a point in life when the benefits of assisted living may come to outweigh those of staying in your own home. Ultimately, a lot depends on a senior’s unique situation and that of their family members. If you’re torn between the two options, here are some of the main factors that may help you make an informed decision about which is best for you or your loved one.
Pros of Aging in Place
Aging in your own home certainly has some clear advantages. These are some of the main reasons families choose to go that route.
Costs of senior care are high. Assisted living and nursing homes are expensive. The average cost of a year in an assisted living facility is $43,539. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home is $92,378. Long-term care insurance and some types of health insurance can help offset those costs, but many families still find the price tag staggering. If you can make it work, aging in place is typically much more affordable than moving into a facility.
You can stay in the neighborhood you know. If you’ve lived in the same home for years, then you’ve probably developed a community amongst your neighbors. You know the area and you likely have your share of friends nearby. As attached as people often get to their homes, many also get attached to the neighborhood surrounding their home as well. Aging in place allows you to stick close to the neighborhood you know and love.
You can hire services that fill in any gaps in your need. Aging in place has frequently been a challenge for families in the recent past because over time seniors lose the ability to perform many of the everyday tasks of living. If failing eyesight or the onset of dementia makes it unsafe for a senior to drive to the grocery store or do chores around the house, then someone has to be able to step in and help, and family members are often busy with their own lives and responsibilities. Luckily, now you can find a number of services that make aging in place easier. A senior can hire someone to do their grocery shopping, clean their house, and walk their dog if they start to have a hard time managing those tasks on their own.
You can enjoy the updates you’ve made to your home. One of the great joys of owning a home is being able to make it yours. You can add a garden, plant trees, remodel the kitchen – make all the changes you want that make the place more specifically yours. Assisted living facilities are designed to try to please as many people as possible, which means residents are never quite able to make it as uniquely their own space as you can with your own homes. Staying home means you get to take advantage of all the changes you’ve made to the house that made it just right for you.
You maintain the freedom and comfort of living in your own home. For many seniors, as nice as all those other pros are, this is the one that matters most. Staying in the space that’s your own – that’s tied to so many meaningful memories – it simply feels more comfortable. It provides you with a feeling of greater independence than you’d have moving into a facility.
Cons of Aging in Place
That may sound like a pretty convincing argument for aging-in-place, but it’s only one side of things.
You won’t receive the same level of care. People move into assisted living facilities and nursing homes for a reason. It’s because they come to need a level of care their families can no longer provide on their own. If a senior’s health deteriorates to a point where they really do need to be near a healthcare professional at all hours of the day, your home won’t cut it. You need a nursing home. Aging in place usually only makes sense if you have enough family members close by who can pitch in to help out. If you don’t have loved ones available to help fill the roles that staff members play in an assisted living facility, then there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll need to make the move.
Safety’s a larger concern. A senior living at home alone that suffers a fall could find themselves stuck for hours until a family member or in-home health professional gets there. When you reach the age that health emergencies become more frequent, then having someone around who can quickly step in to help out when they occur can make a huge difference to how safe and healthy you remain in your senior years.
You’ll have a harder time getting around. If you lose the ability to drive, you’ll have to lean on friends, family and paid services. If you start to have issues walking, kneeling, or taking stairs, then parts of your own home will start to become off limits to you. One of the most unpleasant aspects of aging is losing the ability to do some of the most basic physical tasks you’ve long found easy and necessary, like getting into the bathtub or kneeling to get dishes from the bottom cabinet. You’ll likely need to hire in-home healthcare and call in help from family that lives nearby to manage many of the things that used to be easy to pull of.
Home maintenance will become more challenging. Calling in contractors to deal with fixing problems in your home is a pain on the best of days. Making sure your house stays clean and in working order as you age only becomes harder for most seniors. Home maintenance involves a certain amount of work, energy, and organization that becomes harder to pull off when your memory starts to fade or you begin to find physical tasks more of a challenge. If you have a close family member who’s able and willing to take over some of the home maintenance responsibilities, it may not become a concern. If not, you may find the house falling apart around you without knowing how it happened.
Loneliness is a serious possibility. Finally, one of the most serious risks of aging-in-place is the likelihood of loneliness. If you don’t do the work of getting out and maintaining social connections, then not only do you risk the sadness that comes with a lack of personal relationships, but you could also be opening yourself up to a number of health problems associated with loneliness.
The main reason people move into assisted living is because they need the extra help, but one of the big additional benefits that the facilities provide is constant access to other people and lots of activities designed to keep you active and interacting with other human beings. Those interactions can both prolong your life and improve your quality of life. Even if most seniors want to age in place, many of them ultimately need assisted living to stay safe and healthy. What’s right for each senior is unique to their particular needs and situation, but families should take the time to carefully consider both options in order to make an informed decision about whether aging in place or a move to assisted living is the smartest choice. Check out this page to begin your assisted living search.