By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions
Should I stay or should I go and move into an assisted living community?
On one hand, most older adults, when asked, say they want to age in place. They do not want to move from the place they are living.
In one recent AARP survey, more than 90% of the respondents indicated they would not want to move from their current place of residence even if physical or cognitive issues made it difficult for them to live independently. The survey was of individuals 65 years of age and older.
A big reason is that most survey respondents were of the belief that aging in place for as long as possible was the most economical option for them.
In another AARP survey, three out of four respondents said they would prefer to stay where they currently live. The survey was of individuals 50 years of age and older. Yet, a significant percentage of the respondents in this survey anticipate that in all likelihood they may not be able to do so.
At the same time, respondents to a survey conducted for Argentum, a national association that represents senior living, assisted living and memory care communities, indicated there is a very high level of satisfaction among residents and family members of residents. Nine out of 10 of the residents and family members of residents who were surveyed expressed satisfaction and reported they would recommend the option to others.
Two key differences are that average age of residents moving into senior living and assisted living communities is around 84 years of age as opposed to individuals 50 or 65 years of age and older and three out of four assisted living residents have been diagnosed with two or more chronic medical conditions.
From a qualitative standpoint, I have had the opportunity over the years to talk with residents of senior living, assisted living and memory care communities and their families. What I so commonly hear is that the move was the best decision they could have made and looking back they wonder why it took so long to make the move.
When looking at whether to stay in your current place of residence or move into an assisted living community, my suggestion is to explore these three questions:
What might the consequences be of staying?
What might the consequences be of moving?
Where am I more likely to be better off?
I also suggest you take the following into consideration:
Are any physical or cognitive issues making it more difficult for you to live independently? Be honest with yourself. For instance . . .
Do you have any difficulty preparing meals?
Are you eating the way you should; getting the nutrition you need?
What about shopping for groceries, keeping the house clean or doing your laundry?
Are you taking your medications as prescribed by your doctor; the right medications in the right amounts at the right time of day? Do you experience any challenges with opening medications containers, bottles, or packages? Are you experiencing any problems with your eyesight that makes it difficult to see what medications you are taking?
Might some help with bathing; getting dressed in the morning or ready for bed at night; or help with getting in and out of a chair or bed be beneficial?
Who is going to provide any help or assistance that is needed? Will it be family? A home health aide or homemaker? Will you try making it on your own without getting help and assistance?
If it will be a spouse or other family members, keep in mind that research studies indicate caregiving can have a significant negative impact on the physical and mental health of caregivers. The demands of caregiving can lead to high stress levels, anxiety, and depression. Spouses who serve as caregivers often neglect their own health, which can lead to the caregiver exacerbating any existing chronic medical conditions the spouse may have or to the development of new medical issues. Adult children who serve as caregivers often have a difficult time trying the balance caregiving with their own family and work obligations.
If it will be a home health aide or homemaker, how many hours a day and how many days a week will the aide or homemaker be with you?
If you need some help and are either in denial or are trying to make it on your own, there may be a price to pay. If, for instance, you are not getting the nutrition you need or taking your medications as prescribed, the risk is much higher of having to be rushed to an Emergency Room, having to be hospitalized, or needing nursing home care.
In the assisted living communities that Gardant operates, residents can receive the personal assistance and help with medications they need to help achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible. Certified staff is on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help residents with their scheduled and unscheduled needs. Three meals a day plus snacks, housekeeping and laundry are among the included services.
Our focus is on providing residents with the Love, Compassion and Dignity they deserve in addition to the personal assistance and support services they need.
Your Place of Residence
If you have or should develop any medical conditions, might it be difficult for you to age in place without making any costly changes to where you are living?
Will you have to climb up and down stairs to get into and out of the house; to get to the bedrooms on the second floor; to get to the basement where the washer and dryer are located?
Are the doorways wide enough to accommodate a scooter or wheelchair?
What about the bathroom? Will you be able to safely get in and out of the bathtub or will the tub need to be converted into a shower? What about the need for grab bars; is there enough support in the walls by the toilet and bathtub to properly secure grab bars? Is the bathroom wide enough to accommodate the turning radius of a wheelchair or scooter?
Do the range and oven have front controls or do you have to reach across the burners to reach the controls?
The assisted living communities that Gardant operate are designed around the needs of older adults who might need some help to maintain their independence.
The communities feature private apartments that residents can furnish and decorate to their taste. There are no stairs that residents have to climb to get in and out the building or to and from the apartments and community areas. The apartments feature kitchenettes, bathrooms with grab bars and shower, individually controlled heat and air conditioning, and an emergency alert system.
Research indicates that social connectivity is one of the biggest keys to healthy aging.
One of the biggest benefits of the lifestyle available at the assisted living communities that Gardant operate are all of the opportunities that are available for residents to socialize with other residents, family and friends and participate in social, recreational, educational and wellness activities and special events.
Depending on your situation, Assisted Living can make more sense economically than aging in place in the house, townhome, or apartment where you are currently living.
The 2020 Genworth cost report cites the annual cost nationally for Assisted Living as $51,600. This figure compares with $54,912 for a home health aide; $53,768 for a homemaker; and $105,850 for a private room in a nursing home.
The cost for Assisted Living is based on an individual in a one-bedroom apartment. The costs for a home health aide and for a homemaker are based on an average of 44 hours a week.
There is significant variation in costs by state. For instance, the annual cost for Assisted Living ranges from $48,000 in West Virginia to $52,584 in Indiana; $54,900 in Illinois; $58,200 in Virginia; and $60,000 in Maryland.
Keep in mind that the costs indicated for Assisted Living include many expenses that are not included in the costs for a home health aide or homemaker.
For instance, if a home health aide or homemaker is providing assistance to you in your house, townhome or apartment, the costs of rent or any mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, and food are additional.
The monthly fees in the Assisted Living communities that Gardant operates include the cost of renting a private apartment; utilities (except for telephone, cable and Internet); an emergency alert system; maintenance and routine repairs; housekeeping and laundry services; three meals a day plus snacks; personal assistance and help with medications; landscaping and snow removal; scheduled transportation; and social, recreational, educational and wellness activities.
Some of the communities are designed to serve individuals who have the financial ability to pay privately. Some are designed to serve individuals of all incomes, including those who are on or would qualify for a Medicaid-waiver for assisted living. Some are designed to exclusively serve low-income older adults.
Click here for information on where Gardant-managed Assisted Living communities are located.