On one hand, surveys consistently indicate older adults want to “age in place.” They don’t want to move. They overwhelmingly state their desire to stay in the place they currently are living, even if they develop the need for assistance or ongoing care.
On the other hand, when you talk to residents of assisted living, most will tell you they are so glad they made the decision to move. It was the best decision they made. They look back and wonder what took them so long.
A big part of the reason for the dichotomy of opinion, I believe, stems from whom is being queried.
For example, a recent AARP survey indicated that the percentage of older adults wanting to age in place remains high; COVID has not impacted the desire to stay at home.
The results of the survey were highlighted in a story posted on the AARP website on Nov. 18, 2021. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2021/home-and-community-preferences-survey.html
The data reflects the opinion of people 50 years of age and older.
The vast majority of individuals 50+ are independent. They do not have a need for assistance or going care. They could only project what they think they would likely want if a need developed sometime in the future.
The average age of a resident in an assisted living community at the time of move-in is 84. Residents have actually experienced firsthand what is like to age in place after developing a need for personal assistance. They have found living in an assisted living community to be a much better option.
Here are four points to consider if you currently have the need for ongoing assistance or if the need should develop sometime in the future:
Housing – Aging in Place
The house, townhome or apartment may need modifications to enable aging in place. Is a bedroom and a full bathroom located on the first floor? If not, are there rooms that can be converted? Where are the washer and dryer located? Are stairs to the basement involved? Some of the most common modifications are the building of ramp(s); retrofitting the kitchen and bathroom, including installing a walk-in shower or tub and grab bars and modifying the height of kitchen countertops and cabinets; installing non-skid flooring; and widening of doorways and hallways to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter. Some financial assistance may be available; contacting your local Area Agency on Aging can be a good place to start.
Housing – Assisted Living
Many assisted living communities provide the opportunity for residents to benefit from living in a residential environment. The communities feature private apartments, which residents can furnish and decorate to their taste and make the apartment their home. The apartments have kitchenettes, with microwave and refrigerator/freezer; spacious private bathroom, with shower, raised toilet, and grab bars; individually controlled heat and air conditioning; and emergency alert system. Flooring accommodates the needs of residents who are experiencing difficulty with ambulation.
There are plenty of community areas for residents to enjoy. They can include community and private dining rooms; arts and crafts rooms; beauty/barber salon; card and games room; convenience store; exercise room; library and computer room; multi-purpose room; television room; an outdoor patio and walking area.
Personal Assistance and Help with Medications – Aging in Place
Family members can serve as caregivers for a loved one.
Homemaker and home health aide services are available to enable older adult to age in place. Services can include cooking; cleaning; providing hands-on assistance with bathing, eating, getting dressed and other activities of daily living; and helping with medications. An hourly charge most commonly applies.
Many times it is a combination of family and home health. A homemaker or home health aide handles responsibilities during all or a portion of the time family members are at work and family members serve as caregivers during weekday evenings and nights and on weekends.
Personal Assistance and Help with Medications – Assisted Living
In the assisted living communities Gardant operates, residents receive the personal assistance and help with medication they need. Staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help with scheduled and unscheduled needs. Their goal is to help each resident achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible. Their approach is to provide residents with the Love, Compassion, and Dignity they deserve in addition to the help they need.
In addition, support services such as three meals a day served restaurant-style, housekeeping, and personal and flat linen laundry services are included.
Socialization – Aging in Place
Socialization is one of the biggest keys to healthy aging. Isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on a person’s health.
Often times, opportunities for socialization become much more limited for older adults who develop an on-going need for personalized assistance, especially if they are living alone and no longer able to drive. What we see so often is the older adult spending so much of their time sitting in front of the television, watching old movies and reruns of old TV shows. Wheel of Fortune or local and national news serves as their dinner companion.
If family members are serving as caregivers, much of their time is consumed with doing chores, running errands, and caregiving. Little time may be available to socialize.
A homemaker or home health aide can provide companionship during the hours they are serving as caregiver.
Socialization – Assisted Living
Plenty of formal and informal opportunities are available for residents to socialize with family, friends, and neighbors. It can be while dining with other residents; participating in an arts and crafts program or an exercise class; playing a game of cards; or engaging in conversation with other residents in one of the lounge areas. Even when the weather is nasty, there are plenty of opportunities to socialize without having to go outside or drive.
Cost – Aging in Place
If a spouse or other family members serve as caregiver, much and possibly all of the direct financial costs of caregiving can be avoided. (The cost of any modifications needed to a house, townhome or apartment may still apply). There are, however, other considerations. The challenges of caregiving can have a negative impact on the health of the spouse who is serving as the caregiver. An adult child who is serving as caregiver may have to give up employment to handle caregiving responsibilities or face the challenge of how to balance the responsibilities of family, work, and caregiving.
Homemaker and home health services can be expensive. The most recent Genworth Cost of Long-Term Care survey pegs the cost nationally of a homemaker at $26 an hour. The cost of a home health aide was $27 an hour. Assuming 44 hours a week of homemaker or home health aide services a week are needed as the Genworth study does, the annual amount ranges from approximately $59,500 to $61,775. Assuming 20 hours a week (4 hours a day for 5 days), the annual amount ranges from a little more than $27,040 to nearly $28,100. In addition, a host of other expenses associated with aging in place apply such as any applicable mortgage or rent; property taxes; utilities; food; maintenance and repairs; insurance; and transportation.
The cost of in-home services also depends a lot on where in the United States you live. The Genworth study notes that the median cost for in-home services ranges from a low of less than $19 an hour in West Virginia to $36 an hour in Minnesota. In Illinois, Indiana and Maryland, the figures cited in the Genworth report are $28, $25, and $27 an hour, respectively.
Cost – Assisted Living
The cost of living in an assisted living may be no more and could be less expensive than in-home care, considering everything that is included in the monthly fee for assisted living. A lot depends on the number of hours of in-home care that is required. T
The Genworth report indicates the median annual cost for a one-bedroom apartment in assisted living was $54,000. A studio apartment likely is even more affordable.
For comparison purposes, the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home nationally was nearly $108,500
Click here for the annual Genworth cost of long-term care survey
Please share with us your thoughts.
Gardant Management Solutions, Inc., operates more than 50 assisted living and memory care communities. Many of the communities are designed to serve individuals of all incomes. Click here to see a list of where communities are located https://www.gardant.com/locate-a-community/.