It’s reasonable to believe that remaining at home would be the most cost-effective way to live when growing older. After all, if your mortgage is paid off, you likely have few bills to pay each month. Why would you ever consider leaving home for a senior living community?
The truth is that there are many factors that make the costs of aging in place much higher than you may originally think. While a fully owned home does reduce the bills, there are many sacrifices — both financial and health-related — that seniors aging in place make. Additionally, many of these seniors are forced to rely on family members and friends for completing daily tasks, which can easily lead to burnout among caretakers.
According to a 2014 survey of Medicare recipients, 18 million people aged 65 or older need assistance each day. Around 11 million receive the help they need, but 8.2 million of the 11 million primarily receive the help through family and friends. These numbers indicate a large number of seniors are receiving no help, and those who do rely mostly on loved ones.
The following will provide an overview of what it truly means to age in place, as well as the many hidden costs and risks that arise when someone decides to remain at home as seniors.
What Is Aging in Place?
The definition of aging in place essentially means continuing to live within one’s own home and community, typically taking necessary measures to remain safe. There are a few advantages of aging in place, such as potentially lower monthly costs, staying in a familiar setting, and not needing to move or downsize.
Usually, however, aging in place means having to make costly modifications to one’s home to ensure it is safe to live in as a senior. And while these may seem like one-time costs that will last forever, general home maintenance and repairs are costs that never truly end.
Aging in Place Home Modifications
Aging-in-place designs may vary, but they typically include modifications that increase safety and improve mobility. The following are a few of the most common ways of keeping the elderly in their own homes and helping seniors age in place:
Widening hallways for easier mobility walker and wheelchair access
Installing ramps for wheelchair access and easier traversal
Modifying kitchen areas to be more easily accessible
Installing walk-in shower units, bathtubs, and handrails, which each make it easier to get in and out
Assistive seating and lifts, allowing seniors to get out of chairs and beds more easily
Installing stairlifts so seniors can easily get to upper and lower floors
These are some of the most surface-level costs of aging in place, but many of the largest costs accrued by remaining at home are not as easy to see.
The Hidden Costs of Aging in Place
While there are some positives to aging in place, there are many new concerns the elderly have to deal with when choosing to stay at home. Many of these affect physical health and emotional wellbeing, which can impact mental health and lead to greater safety risks. Dependence on others can also lead to caregiver burnout, especially when a senior needs a high level of assistance.
The following sections cover some of the hidden costs associated with aging in place.
Social Isolation and Loneliness in the Elderly
As mobility declines, seniors may find it more and more difficult to get out into the world, visit others, and participate within their community. This can cause seniors to stay at home and become isolated, and the effects of isolation on mental health can be dangerous. Having a strong social support group is important for preventing elderly loneliness and depression. In addition, social support may also help prevent age-related health concerns like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
Elderly Health Care Issues
Elderly medical issues are also a greater concern when a senior lives at home. A combination of low exercise, a lacking diet, and isolation can cause a variety of both physical and mental health conditions to arise. Exercises for senior citizens are helpful in preventing health issues, but many seniors who live at home do not get the exercise they need. This can lead to greater risks of falls and further mobility issues, making age-in-place home care even more of a necessity for remaining safe.
One of the greatest concerns for seniors aging in place is safety. If they are isolated from others and fall down or have a medical emergency, there will be no one around to help. As such, home safety for seniors typically requires the use of a senior safety medical alert — usually a device worn around the neck that a senior can use if they need help. However, they may still be minutes away from life-saving care or may even be unable to use the device at all.
Caregiver Stress Syndrome
The aforementioned survey found family and friends who helped seniors with tasks like cooking and cleaning spent around 21 hours per week providing assistance. However, those who assisted in three or more personal tasks, such as walking and bathing, spent around 60 hours per week helping out. This can lead to caregiver stress and burnout, which can further lead to inadequate care when caregivers are overwhelmed. Caregiver stress syndrome has a variety of negative effects on a caregiver’s health, including declining physical health, higher stress hormones, and higher mortality rates in those aged 66 and older.
Home Repairs and Maintenance
Even after all of the updates made to make aging in place a safer solution, seniors still have to pay for common house repairs, house updates, property taxes, maintenance, and many other costs. Homeowners pay around $6,000 per year on property taxes, utilities, and home insurance alone. In addition to these costs, it’s estimated that homeowners spend around 1% to 4% of their home’s value on maintenance and repairs each year. This is not to mention the time and financial cost of having to upkeep the home on a regular basis.
Alternative Senior Living Options
Facing a future of isolation, health concerns, mobility issues, and reliance on family and friends, many older adults choose instead to move into senior citizen living facilities. There are many types of independent living communities throughout the United States, each with varying levels of care that fit the needs of each individual.
For example, a senior who is fully capable of taking care of their personal needs may move into a fully independent living community. If they need a little extra help, they can hire an outside care provider to assist with certain tasks, and if they need a higher level of assistance each day, they can transition into an assisted living community to receive round-the-clock care. Seniors who have advanced medical needs or cognitive issues can move into specialized memory care units or nursing homes.
Benefits to All-Inclusive Independent Senior Housing
At Holiday Retirement, independent living communities have a large number of amenities and services designed to give seniors the peace of mind that their needs, wants, and safety concerns are taken care of. At our senior lifestyle communities, residents enjoy:
A spacious apartment unit or cottage-style house
A single monthly fee that covers all services
Chef-prepared meals and all-inclusive dining services
On-site support staff
A social calendar full of events, group gatherings, and outings
Housekeeping and linen services
Shared community areas, fitness rooms, computer labs, outdoor spaces
Recreational activities, sports, and clubs
Safety-focused layouts and floorplans
Lively Mobile Plus medical alert devices
The average cost of independent senior living is around $2,800 per month, while the average cost of assisted living is around $4,000 per month. Many seniors are surprised by just how affordable independent living communities are, especially since they include food, housing, cleaning, transportation, security, and a wealth of activities to enjoy.
Independent Senior Living Communities Near Me
If you or someone you love could benefit from living in one of our senior communities, you can begin the search process by using our easy-to-use community locator tool. Holiday Retirement has hundreds of locations throughout the United States, allowing you to choose the perfect place to live. Whether you’d like to remain close to home or move to a new part of the country, there’s bound to be a Holiday Retirement community that suits your needs.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an in-person or virtual tour, our helpful representatives are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about retirement communities, payment options, and the lifestyle you’ll be able to enjoy.
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