“I just can’t believe how much this will cost me,” John muttered while standing in line at the pharmacy.
“There are a lot of things I can’t believe when it comes to cost, but the most surprising one for me was the difference between staying in my home and moving to a new retirement community,” Greg replied.
“They’re expensive, aren’t they?”
Greg shook his head, “That’s the surprising part; they aren’t when it comes to the real cost of aging in place.”
Many older adults assume moving to a retirement community is not an affordable option for them. But many soon learn that aging in place often carries a very high price tag, especially in terms of quality of life.
Costly Home Repairs and Alterations
Operating Expense – One of the most obvious areas is the expense of owning a home. As an older adult, even routine maintenance becomes more difficult, and if there’s an injury or illness, tasks are either neglected or require the expense of outside help.
Major repairs, such as a new roof or furnace are a substantial expense that usually occurs right when it’s not convenient or planned.
Accessibility– Most homes were not designed to accommodate mobility issues, such as walkers or wheelchairs. So, it may require extensive and expensive remodeling or modifications to keep the homeowner living there.
Senior Isolation and Health Risks
Senior isolation is a growing concern when it comes to health and wellness. Numerous studies have shown loneliness and isolation carries a higher overall risk of adverse health issues including cognitive decline, depression, malnutrition, sleep issues, and increased risk of mortality.
Over the past few decades family dynamics have changed. Many who are now over 50 had fewer children or none at all, leaving them without extended family to interact with and rely on. Isolation can be intensified for those in rural areas or people that have given up driving.
A study in the UK of adults over 60 found that 25% reported that their feelings of isolation and loneliness impacted their ability to do basic daily activities, such as showering and dressing for the day.
Vulnerability to Elder Abuse
Those without a supportive social and emotional network are more likely to be victims of elder abuse and scams. From home improvement to lottery winnings, seniors are bombarded with calls, letters, and gutsy door-to-door cons. Alone in their home, they often lack the connections to consult with a trusted outside source regarding financial decisions.
Without nearby family or other supportive network, many adults who choose to age in place rely on hired caregivers. To cut corners, they will often hire someone through word of mouth or other sources who don’t thoroughly vet their employees. This can lead to situations of physical or financial harm, and in some cases both.
Even with a trustworthy and reliable caregiver meaningful social interaction may be limited. The caregiver may only be there for a short time to complete tasks such as meal prep and laundry.
Financial Impact of In-Home Care
In addition to the costs of home upkeep and repairs, in home care can run in the thousands of dollars. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates that the number of older adult households in which at least one person has a self-care disability will reach 12 million by 2035 and many households will need daily assistance with personal care, shopping, housework and paying bills.
Currently, the median cost of a home health aide five days a week is over $3,800 a month, which can quickly deplete the average homeowner’s savings. This also compounds the additional stress put on family members to make up the difference either financially or physically providing additional care.
Senior Living Has Many Residential Options and Price Points
An active retirement community can be an optimal living option that addresses the social, emotional, and wellness aspects of life. With several price points for a variety of residential options including stand-alone homes, condos, or apartments, there is with the added security of having repairs and upkeep provided.
Many communities, such as Kendal at Lexington, has a wide variety of social activities plus amenities such as fitness facilities, libraries and community dining rooms which residents can enjoy at a level they choose.
Along with a sense of community and connection, most residents agree they have discovered a new depth to their lives, whether it is with like-minded friends, a new interest, or rekindling a hobby from years ago.
When it comes to choosing a retirement community over aging in place, their consensus is to do it sooner than later.