Living at Home Vs. Assisted Living
Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Seniors keeping their independence and staying in their own comfortable homes longer these days are living longer. We've all seen the horrible news these days about assisted living center and COVID-19.
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to spend their remaining years in a familiar home setting – just as they may have their own reasons to leave it for a retirement community. But health and mobility concerns force the issue to become a priority for many families. Most seniors will eventually need some form of help with daily living activities – either in a community setting or in place at home. Sometimes conflicting desires not only pit parent against child, but spouse against spouse. All this calls for a respectful dialogue between family members and a careful consideration of the financial, social, and medical ramifications of each decision.
· About 90% of seniors intend to remain in their current homes for the next five to 10 years. Of these individuals, 85% are confident that they can stay in their residences without making significant home modifications.
· Of surveyed seniors who planned to age in place, the most popular reasons for their preferences were “to stay in a home I like” and “to be near friends and family.”
· 65% of seniors between the ages of 60 and 70 find it “very easy” to live independently. However, only 43% of those over 70 do so.
· Nearly two in 10 Americans aged 70 and older state that they either cannot, or find it difficult, to live independently and accomplish daily tasks without getting help from caregivers or community resources.
· Over 25% of seniors in their 60's say they are not confident that their communities will have the resources and services they need to lead a healthy and independent life over the next five to 10 years.
· Only half of seniors feel that their communities offer a high-quality public transportation system.
· 72% of low-income or moderate-income seniors report having a chronic illness.
· Fraudulent telemarketers direct anywhere from 56% to 80% of their calls at older adults.
· Nearly one in four seniors feel they cannot move either because they cannot afford moving costs or because do not believe they could sell their home.
· Senior-friendly home modifications can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
· Visiting caregiver services run about $4,000 per month.
· The average monthly cost of assisted living is $6,750.
Some older people — 21% of those aged 65 -74 and 18% of those aged 74 to 84 — own their homes outright and thus no longer have mortgage expenses. Others are enrolled in the Federal Housing Administration’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program, which helps senior homeowners age in place by allowing them to access the equity of their homes as income.
For seniors who want to stay put, the issue isn’t simply about control or staying within a comfort zone. They may want to enjoy a property on which they spent years investing time and money – a home they associate with many site-specific activities, holiday traditions, and fond memories. A private home makes it easy for family members to come and go freely at any time they wish. It also helps maintain other social relationships they care about in the immediate area, like neighbors and vendors. Frequent visits from children, grandchildren, and other relatives or friends is their idea of happiness.
Some people want their privacy when they want it. But as venturing outside becomes more and more difficult, the risk of social isolation and inactivity becomes real. For some older adults, the choice to age in place traps them – even if it is their
wish to be there. New physical limitations or health conditions often mean they’re rarely leaving home. This makes it harder to keep in touch with old friends or cement relationships with new ones.
Assisted living communities have common areas to encourage socialization and regularly plan activities and outings for residents. Many seniors thrive on the camaraderie in a retirement community and find plenty of opportunity for solitude in a safe, secure setting. Other retirees have no desire to spend all day long around other older adults and are happy to simply visit a local senior center when they want to. These centers offer a variety of activities and changes to see old friends there and make new ones. If leaving is home is difficult, seniors or their caregivers may arrange for volunteers to visit or call periodically.
For any aging adult, retirement means losing regular interaction with co-workers and business associates. Family members and longtime friends die over the years. Assess how many friends and family members will be around for the long haul and whether a move to assisted living would increase social interaction or decrease it.
Consider whether a family member or very close friend is close by in case of an emergency. If this caretaker is a non-relative, the senior will not be a top priority in their life regardless of how close they are. Even very close friends may have their own families and responsibilities that limit their ability to help as often as necessary. Luckily, however, technology does enable today’s seniors to live independently for longer and stay connected with family and friends. Home sensors, personal navigational devices, and other communications offer new ways to stay connected and safe while a caregiver is not on hand.
Think through all contingencies – whether someone is physically close enough to check on the senior if they haven’t answered the phone, or if there is an emergency situation such as with the weather. If the senior is in the hospital or rehabilitation, they will need someone to watch their home and care for them once they’ve been discharged.
Be sure to plan for what would happen if the senior were to suddenly become ill and unable to speak. They’ll need to give someone they trust permission to discuss their healthcare with a physician and make necessary decisions. Learn about healthcare advance directives and consider obtaining a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace.