The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) projected a few years back that the number of U.S. adults age 65 and older would grow from 48 to 79 million over the next two decades. But a survey by the American Association of Retired Person suggests that about 90% of these American adults wish to age at home and live independently.
With the growing population of seniors and the desire to live an independent life, questions about the disadvantages of aging in place continue to become crucial to making sound decisions about how to live in this later part of their lifetime. These questions are essential because seniors often choose to live independently and age in place at home even when the decline in their physical health makes it difficult for them to do so.
Aging at home can have advantages, such as feeling secure in a familiar environment, not giving up your independence, etc. But aging in place at home comes at its price.
Many obvious health challenges affect older people and make it difficult and even dangerous in some cases for them to live independently. These critical medical conditions include arthritis, vision loss, impaired hearing, osteoporosis, etc.
Less obvious health challenges may include dizziness, inability to keep balance, and cognitive impairment, such as when seniors cannot handle basic routines. They might become forgetful and find it difficult to pay the utility bills or follow instructions on a manual. An advanced and conspicuous form of this health challenge is the progressive and irreversible disease of the brain called Alzheimer’s disease.
These could make aging in place at home not just difficult but dangerous.
Among homeowners in America, seniors have the highest ownership rate among all age groups with 78.6%. This is great news, but the downside is that the pension pays for taxes on the property. In states where this tax rate is significantly reduced, the pension fund will still be depleted from the repair costs.
Aside from the cost of repairs from wear and tear and other modifications necessary to make aging in place easy and safe, hiring a hand for assistance with routine errands and housekeeping also comes at its costs.
Aging in place at home also comes with a price tag. Many older people need to modify their homes and keep up with a home maintenance routine to make them convenient for aging. In many cases, seniors also need to hire an in-home caregiver to assist with light housekeeping, routine errands, or activities of daily living.
Apart from paying taxes, aging in place at home requires having a health care assistant in many cases.
The cost of hiring and keeping one may drain the pension that is hardly ever enough to cater to the needs of the senior. The cost of nursing homes and assisted facilities for seniors and their families are usually too much to bear.
Getting a private room in an assisted living facility may cost up to $80,000 or more, while a bed in a shared room may cost anywhere between $10,000 and more per annum. Many times, the costs increase for seniors who require special attention and long-term care.
Crime opportunity theory suggests that criminals often target victims that offer great rewards but little risk. Older people living independently in retirement communities tend to be easy targets for criminal elements because they are unlikely to give them a tough time.
Although variations in lifestyle may affect the probability of being a target for criminals, seniors are less likely to resist. This makes them easy targets for kidnappers. They may also be robbed at specific times of the month when they get their pension.
More critical cases may be instances where the criminals use their identity to make purchases of expensive items and disappear without a trace. Alarms and other security devices often only postpone the crime to later; it hardly prevents the crime.
Most importantly, aging in place at home means you might be lonely many times. Your friends may not be in the same health conditions as you are, and your close neighbors whom you’ve known for many years may move out of the neighborhood.
Your family members may visit you often, but circumstances and living routines will make it difficult for them to keep you company at all times. Older persons of the retirement community may not be available for companionship. So, in the end, you may have to deal with being alone for most of the day.
Sociability gives people, in general, a sense of belonging, companionship, security, and more. On the other hand, loneliness might lead to depression and health problems. So it would be best to stay connected and maintain regular contact with others.
Here at Clearday™, we clearly understand the disadvantages of aging in place at home, which is why we are focused on creating enriched programs that increase your engagement, independence and quality of life to help you avoid the disadvantages of aging in place at home while enjoying the benefits of aging in place. See how we can help here.
By Clearday Research Team
This blog and related materials prepared by Clearday, Inc. may use publicly available information including market research, studies or reports by unaffiliated third parties that include market demographics and other relevant market or research information. Such information or a link to such information is available upon request. We do not warrant any such information and do not have information that causes us to believe that any such market research, studies or reports are not correct in all material respects.