According to a survey conducted in February 2020 by Fresenius Medical Care North America, 65% of surveyed adults say they want to age in place. However, only 33% believe they’re equipped to make that happen.

So why do nearly half of the respondents believe they can’t age in place?

Of the survey participants, 29% said they don’t think they’ll have enough money to stay in their homes as they grow older, while another 24% say they don’t believe their homes are suitable to their needs as they age. Let’s consider some of the most pressing issues when it comes to aging in place.

The Good

There are several positive aspects of aging in place. For example, the senior will be able to maintain a sense of their independence. Even if over time they develop some physical and mental decline, seniors can still maintain parts of their independence by exercising control over their daily routine, activities, and life decisions; aspects that they would not otherwise have control over in a senior living facility. Also, being in a familiar setting with a routine can positively impact the elderly parent’s sense of comfort and quality of life. Being in a personal home setting can also insulate the aging adult from bacterial and viral risks that can be found in senior living facilities which results in fewer chances of contacting a serious illness.

There is also a cost-savings factor for seniors that are able to age in place. The yearly expense for an assisted living facility can be over $20,000 per year for a shared room and over $75,000 for a private room. These costs can be even higher in nursing facilities when seniors require specialized care. Despite the high costs of residing in a long-term care facility, there is also a price tag that comes along with aging in place. Many seniors may need to modify their homes to make them safer and more livable, as well as most needing to hire an in-home caregiver to assist with light housekeeping, errands and help with navigating daily living activities. However, these costs are typically thousands of dollars less expensive per month than living in an assisted living or nursing facility.

The Bad

Even though it is “generally” less expensive to age in place, there are several variables that are unique to each family which makes this question difficult to answer.  For starters, the condition of the house and its structure are a cost factor to take into consideration if desiring to age in place. If the house is in good condition and has been reasonably maintained, then the only cost factors would be some remodeling aspects such as widening doorways, modifying the shower to allow easier access for a wheelchair, and adding grab bars. However, if the home is two-story with no bedrooms or bathrooms on the main floor, remodeling costs are going to be much higher.

Another factor to consider is the health of the family member. If they are disabled or have dementia and need around-the-clock care, these command a much higher cost of care than if a home health company only provided general services a few hours a day. Another factor to consider is if your loved one is going to be comfortable having multiple health care providers coming in and out of their home. Ideally, they would have a large network of family and friends who are able or willing to step in to help if they are in need of assistance. However, if this is not an option and your elderly parent needs considerable medical care or assistance, then this will have to be outsourced to home health providers or others who are able to step in and render help.

If your parent or senior family member is resistant to this concept, then careful discussion and consideration will need to be made concerning whether them staying in their home is the best decision. Involving a neutral third-party, such as a mediator, may be necessary if your parent or other family members are unable to reach a reasonable decision regarding the best method of caring for your parent long-term.

The Ugly

So, what happens when staying at home is no longer affordable or viable? What are my aging family member’s options? Depending on where your aging loved one is located determines greatly the monthly expense for a home health aide. At the time of publication, the national monthly average based on a 2018 Genworth study is $4800 for 40 hours per week of in-home care. This expense is even higher if the elderly family member is medically complex (dementia, physically disabled, etc.) and needs around the clock care.

While Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance do offer some coverage for these expenses, they are extremely limited. If the family is unable to provide extra support either financially or by providing caregiving services to the aging parent themselves at least part of the time, aging in place may not be a financially feasible option. In this case, the better long-term care option would be placing the senior into a nursing home or assisted living facility where the monthly costs could be lower and the availability of around the clock care is more readily available.

Summing Up

The decision for your elderly family member to age in place is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are several aspects to take into consideration when making this decision, and sometimes this can lead to heated discussions between the elderly parents and their adult children or even amongst the siblings themselves. Bringing in a neutral third-party like Care Right can help to mediate the dialogue between all of the family members and can also bring clarity to some long-term care or caregiving issues that may not be known about or understood. Care Right can also consider each of the family members wishes and help craft an Aging Plan which can help soothe any tensions within the family and relieve the stress of worrying about the “what-ifs”. Scheduling your free 30-minute consult is the first step in taking control of this impending situation before it creates a stressful family dynamic.