When our parents reach their elder years, an important question arises: can they keep living alone, or is it time to consider a retirement community? Many older adults enjoy the prospect of starting afresh and moving into a retirement home with their fellow peers, while others aren’t as eager.
Older adults in good health and financial circumstances may prefer to stay home. But is this a viable option? Can retired individuals get the same care and attention at home as in a retirement community?
Below, we’ll go over a few factors determining whether aging in place is the right choice for you and your family, so keep reading to learn more.
After reading today’s article, you can learn more about the monthly costs of retirement homes here.
Why do some people choose to age in place?
Many older adults dislike moving from their familiar, comfortable home into a community residence. After all, home is where the heart is.
Many people stay in the same houses for decades, filled to the brim with memories of time spent with their spouse, raising their children, having friends and family over to celebrate special occasions and many other occasions.
Therefore, when adults reach an age where they need more assistance in their day-to-day lives, the idea of abandoning their well-loved home can be a difficult one to get behind.
Some people don’t realize that the modern retirement community is focused on providing a comfortable and pleasurable home so that when individuals decide to make the leap, they thoroughly enjoy their new surroundings and the help they receive.
However, many adults who have chosen to age in place have found that it works well for their circumstances. So, that begs the question: does my older loved one have the right circumstances to make aging in place work?
Aging in place: pros and cons
Aging in place can be a positive move for many older adults, while others may find that the cons outweigh the pros.
Let’s review a few factors when deciding between staying home or moving to a retirement community and see which conclusions best fit your family’s circumstances.
One of the first factors to consider is affordability. Many people assume that aging in place is cheaper than paying to live in a retirement community, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Even if an older person owns their home and no longer pays a mortgage, they still have to contend with the cost of utilities, home maintenance, groceries, internet, phone bills and TV bills, among other expenses involved in maintaining a home.
When paying for a spot in a retirement home, all of the above should be covered in the rental price, which can often equate to the same amount of money, even less if you have insurance.
The question of whether your older loved one will be safe living alone is often the catalyst to start the conversation about alternative living situations. If your loved one who has been living at home has been experiencing mobility and balance issues, or you’ve been noticing signs of memory loss, their current living situation could result in an accident or serious injury.
One of the benefits of moving to a retirement community is that these homes are set up to deal with these situations. For example, the apartments and community areas are equipped with handrails, wheelchair-friendly access points and widened hallways for mobility assistance.
Also, if your family member is showing early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, retirement communities are often equipped with cameras and security guards to prevent wandering or getting lost.
Many of these safety precautions can be implemented in an older person’s home, so if your loved one would prefer to age in place, consider installing handrails in the bathroom or paying for in-home care.
In this case, the issue of whether in-home or external care is better largely depends on how much of a risk your loved one poses to themselves at their current stage of life.
The older a person gets, the more they may see their social circle dwindle. People move away or pass on; if their family doesn’t live close by, they may go days or weeks with little to no social interaction.
If the above circumstance applies to your loved one, this may be a situation where aging in place could pose a risk rather than provide comfort. Older adults who are isolated in such a way may begin to suffer from depressive episodes, which can cause their mental and physical health to deteriorate at an accelerated rate.
As mentioned above, older adults who prefer to age in place generally enlist the services of at-home care providers, especially once they reach their later retirement years.
These caretakers generally perform tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and preparing meals, providing hygiene assistance and administration of medication, and may even drive their clients around town to doctor’s appointments and to run personal errands.
This level of professional care can be achieved in the home and retirement community, so this factor often comes down to cost.
To have all of the above tasks performed, older adults usually have to pay an hourly rate, which can significantly increase if they require a live-in caretaker. A caretaker’s salary may cost more than moving to a retirement home, as many of these responsibilities are included in the rental price.
Final verdict: is aging in place a good idea?
So, is aging in place a viable option? The answer to this question largely comes down to your family’s circumstances. If your older loved one is relatively independent and suffers from minor health conditions, then aging in place will likely require minimal external care and, in turn, cost. However, if they need more round-the-clock care, whether staying at home is a good idea will come down to what you can afford.
We recommend reviewing the factors above with your loved one and discussing their current health and financial circumstances to determine whether aging in place is a realistic and achievable solution.