Pros and Cons of Aging in PlacePros & 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. Here are 10 tips for making your home a safe place for aging.

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.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

20 Comments

  1. D. Skonieczki July 5, 2016 Reply

    All these places make it so hard to get in, seniors, most of us anyway don’t have the money to get into assisted living.
    When you just have your S.S. to live on you can not afford those places. You act like all Seniors make tons of money and we DON’T. I had my own apt. until I had to move in with a family member because of my falls and I am very lonely, I am not allowed to drive either. I don’t know anyone and at my apt. I had a lot of friends. It stinks!!!!!
    It just makes you want to give up!!!!!

    • J. Stipp July 6, 2016 Reply

      Do not give up! There are assisted living communities that accept Medicaid as payment. You will need to get qualified for Medicaid first. Then the part that pays for assisted living is the A&D Waiver. It stands for Aged and Disabled.

      Please look into it within your city. Call your local area agency on aging.

    • MARIA A. LOPATEGUI April 18, 2017 Reply

      If you enjoy life, do not hesitate to get an UBER, or a taxi to go to the theater or to the movies. Invite other friends to go with you. Life should be easer.

  2. Valerie July 5, 2016 Reply

    I am sorry you are going through this. I can relate because I have parents, age 85, who are now living solely on SS. They own their two bedroom cabin, which is very, very modest. It needs LOTS and lots of work. And there is no money to do anything to improve it.

    You are right, not everyone has a lot of resources, and without money, it all feels so incredibly daunting.

    • MARIA A. LOPATEGUI April 18, 2017 Reply

      Have your parents ever considered a reverse mortgage. It could help a lot. Is an alternative.

  3. Carol Poupore July 7, 2016 Reply

    Does assisted living take so much from medicade, if you had it? And then take your Medicare social security check with it?

  4. alan wolkenstein July 11, 2016 Reply

    I have consulted with such places and find that some make little to no effort to bring folks together…no real in depth psycho-social introductions etc…people are left on their own to get into the flow…and some are reeling from losses and grieving that makes them unlikely to be the ones to get into the flow….
    That should be the work of the Social Workers on staff,but if they are not elder trained and family specialists they may lack the dynamic skills to do so-offering activities is a good idea but falls far short of what people may need…

  5. Gayle Edwards February 16, 2017 Reply

    I live on my husbands SS and it is very small. If not for my children I would be on the street. I am amused at the articals that say eat this way or that. I cannot imagine being able to buy all those fresh fruits and Vegs. My children are going to get a home big enough for me to live in seperately from them. I will be happy to move because I love having the interaction with my Grands. I agree with the posts on here. When we have only a thousand dollars to live on it’s impossible to even think of going into an assisted living place. I wish people would get real about the aging population.

  6. Jay February 16, 2017 Reply

    I’ve had a unique experience. I developed Parkinsons very young and became disabled young. I simply needed more help and a link to get emergency help.
    I tried assisted/independent living and hated it. Just too many compromises on choices of food, living space and company. Living in a facility loaded with unhappy and miserable people is unhealthy. Moreover, it was too much money for too little return
    I now live on my own in an apartment complex with lots of services like trash pickup at your front door, fitness facility and pool. I love my privacy and general independence. I get assistance from friends/family and a hired cleaning person twice a month.
    I’ve learned to search out services that are available to seniors and the disabled. Also, I highly recommend purchasing a portable call button with GPS tracking. The cost (about $300 – $400 per year). Well worth the instant availability of help anywhere you may be.
    Often, what we need/want doesn’t exist. It then becomes our responsibility to create it for ourselves. People like to help people who are trying to help themselves. No one is rushing over to those who have given up. Choose to be happy

  7. Dorothy Swick February 16, 2017 Reply

    I agree that these places are very expensive and I as a senior cannot afford to live in an assisted living facility. I do not have any close family members do to abuse in the past, to help me with anything. I currently own with a mortgage my own home. I have to pay for any plumbing or contractors to come into my home. My little dog passed away last May, 2016. I would like to have another one but no one available to look after it if anything happens to me. My eyesight is failing, though I still drive at the moment. Do not know what is going to happen in the near future. Have heard many horror stories about nursing homes such as the Caressant Care Home in Woodstock, Ontario. No close friends to help me either

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