Is Aging in Place the Right Choice for You?

There really is no place like home. And whether home is a Kansas farmhouse, a suburban bungalow or a city condo, most older adults have some desire to age in place, remaining in a familiar space. Those plans are often based on the hope of maintaining independence and the fear that the only other option is a nursing home. There are many senior housing options and helpful stay-at-home services that allow seniors to select the most comfortable and healthy way to live out their golden years.

Meeting Changing Needs as You Age

Remaining in your own home is an option, but one that may require modifications as you grow older to cope with the challenges of aging. Today, you may be able to handle all of your needs without any problems but as we age, things become harder to manage. Common ailments, such as arthritis, can make walking up a short flight of stairs, stepping into a bathtub or turning standard doorknobs more difficult. Simple things like taking the garbage to the curb or putting a gallon jug of milk in the fridge are simply more difficult as we age. According to United Disabilities Services Foundation, only one percent of homes in the United States are ready for their occupants to age in place.[1] Here are some things to consider before deciding if remaining in your current home is the right choice for you:[2]

check markDo you foresee any challenges for mobility in your home the way it is today? For example, is your laundry facilities in a location that requires you to haul clothes up and down the stairs to wash?

check markShould stairs be a problem, do you have the ability to modify your home with ramps, chair lifts, etc.?

check markWhat kind of upkeep does your current home have? Will you need to hire lawn services, a housekeeper, pool service, etc.?

check mark Should you require assistance with personal care, is there a family member who can commit to your daily needs? Or will you need to hire in-home assistance?

check markHow will you manage grocery shopping, meal preparation and clean-up? Is there a friend or family member willing and able to help or would you need to pay for delivery and in-home services?

check markHow will you get to doctors’ appointments, pick up prescriptions, etc. if you are no longer able to drive?

check markWhat if you need help taking your medications or other medical care? Will you be able to afford in-home nursing care?

Exploring Your Housing Options

Start thinking about your plans and goals before the changes that come with aging impact your lifestyle. Be sure to factor in long-term housing and care as part of your retirement planning and the preparation of drawing retirement funds. Give yourself plenty of time to seek out available services for housing options and take the time to update your current home with any necessary accommodations to help with mobility and safety. Keep in mind that you are not limited to staying in your current house or going directly to a nursing home. Many housing alternatives offer innovative ways to live independently and transition into care that benefits your health and environment, including:

Multigenerational living with family members, sometimes accomplished with the addition of a “granny” unit or a “mother-in-law suite” added to an existing house or built as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). Many cities have adopted zoning laws to accommodate ADUs.[3]

Shared housing with other seniors can also reduce costs while providing mutual companionship and support. Emerging websites such as Silvernest* allow seniors to connect with others interested in sharing a home in some cities.[4]

55+ Senior living or retirement communities, combine private living space with access to amenities ranging from on-site restaurants and golf courses to planned social activities and outings. Many of these communities also include assisted living and nursing facilities, allowing you to remain in the same community as your needs change.[5]

Assisted Living facilities are a great option to consider for round-the-clock nursing or if relying on support from family and friends is not an option. Although costs vary from state to state, the average cost of assisted living in the United States is $54,000 per year or about $4,500 per month.[6] These facilities combine small apartment-style units with help for everyday activities and some health care services for residents.

The level of services available varies between communities. Your local Agency on Aging* or the Eldercare Locator* can help connect you with housing options and services available to you in your area. Services provided typically include exercise and wellness programs, housekeeping and dining services, assistance with medication management and transportation. These services can also coordinate with other health care facilities to offer residents access to dental and medical care.

Seek Help as You Plan

Reaching out to family and friends is a good place to start the conversation, and there are additional resources worth looking into as you plan. As a starting point for your plan, the federal government's* website offers a guide to what you should be taking into consideration based on your age group.

For older adults without family support, or with families who don’t know where to begin the conversations, a geriatric care manager can work with you to form a long-term care plan and help you locate the services you need. Geriatric care managers, often a licensed nurse or social worker, can help you create a long-term health plan including locating the services you need.[7] While geriatric care managers are not covered by most insurance, it may be worth the expense if you are having difficulty locating needed resources.

Finally, keep in mind that while remaining in your own home may not be the best option for you as you age there are other great options. Your planning efforts should focus on finding a living situation that provides you with a safe, comfortable place to live that meets your needs as you age.

[1] United Disabilities Services (2022). A Guide to Aging in Place Design.

[2] National Institute on Aging (2017). Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home.

[3] Seniors Matter (2021). Accessory Dwelling Units Are Unique and Cheaper: How Do They Benefit Seniors?

[4] U.S. News & World Report (2020). 7 Housing Options for Seniors.

[5] U.S. News & World Report (2020). 7 Housing Options for Seniors.

[6] National Center for Assisted Living (2022). Assisted Living Fact Sheet 2022.

[7] National Institute on Aging (2017). What Is a Geriatric Care Manager?

*This Newsletter may contain links to other websites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your convenience only. This includes links contained in advertisements, including banner advertisements and sponsored links. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and we accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them. If you decide to access any of the third party websites linked in this newsletter, you do so entirely at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use for such websites.

S7694_22-6987_enewsletter 2022_C Reviewed 07/14/22

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 866-250-2005. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711).

Elixir Insurance, 8921 Canyon Falls Blvd., Suite 100, Twinsburg, OH 44087, United States

Topics: Healthy Choices, Helpful Tips

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