Numerous polls have shown that a majority of retirees plan on “Aging in Place” in their home. According to the AARP, nearly 90 percent of adults over 65 want to remain in their current homes as they grow older and fully expect to live out the remainder of their life there.
In addition, moving or even the very thought of moving brings physical and emotional stress and the anticipation of a move to a senior living community can be overwhelming. Many elders are reluctant to leave behind caring neighbors and a family home full of memories and feel that staying in a home that has no mortgage will be less costly than moving to a retirement community. What many fail to take into account is that stay-at-home costs will increase as more home care is needed, especially with age.
When deciding to age in place at home, it’s important to be proactive and make sure your home can handle the following:
- Will you be able to live on the first floor, should you be unable to handle the
steps to the second floor?
- Is there a room on the first floor that can be converted to a wheelchair-accessible bedroom with a full bath nearby on that level? Or can a stair chair” be installed and used to get to the second floor?
- Are there experienced and trusted local home modification contractors that can help with changes to your doorways, bathrooms, and living areas to promote safety in your home?
- Are there trusted community-based services in your town that can provide home-delivered meals, transportation, and in-home caregivers, and other services at a reasonable cost?
There are also potential disadvantages to aging in place that should be considered:
- Aging in place may be going as expected, but then you experience a severe health decline such as a stroke, debilitating fall, or memory impairment. You may not have planned for an alternative care setting, such as an assisted living community, and no longer have the finances to pay for 24/7 care in the home and are dependent upon help from family members.
- You haven’t made provision for expensive home repairs. Along with home safety modifications, you may need a new roof or HVAC system. These large repairs can cost thousands of dollars and require competent contractors to install and can take a significant bite out of your budget.
- For many couples, one spouse or partner becomes dependent upon the other. When the healthy half of an aging couple declines or passes away, the responsibilities they handled have to be shouldered by someone else. If the solo partner is physically or cognitively incapable of taking on those duties, there needs to be a family member or trusted friend who can step into that role.
- If there is a cognitive decline related to dementia, and you live alone, aging in place could not only become unhealthy, but dangerous. You might not remember to take your medications, just snack and not eat healthy meals and forget you turned on the stove and walk away.
- And last but not least, many elders who have chosen to age in place become housebound and isolated. The emotional and cognitive toll that this takes on the older adult is substantial. Positive socialization and supportive relationships are key to healthy aging and are more likely to be found in a senior living community.
So, whether your aging loved one makes the decision to age in place at home or is considering moving to a senior living community, Fendrick Morgan can help plan for a successful and safe outcome. We understand the challenges involved in supporting and caring for an elderly parent or loved one. Our holistic approach to elder care planning gives your entire family peace of mind knowing that the elder law needs, financially planning for long-term care and the steps towards the best outcome for everyone are in place. Give us a call at 856-489-8388 to schedule a consult with one of our Elder Law Attorneys and Elder Care Coordinator.