Aging in Place: Why Older Adults Are Staying in Their Homes
Bob Benedict | February 11, 2016
In the past several years, we’ve seen a significant shift in the number of older adults who are choosing to stay in their homes as they age, rather than move to an assisted living facility. While adults staying in their homes for the duration of their lives isn’t necessarily a new concept, this trend has gained renewed attention as life spans increase and the over 65 population grows.
To illustrate, let’s look to the numbers:
- Each day, an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turn 65.
- According to the U.S. Census, the number of households headed by someone over the age of 65 increased 24 percent between 2003 and 2013. The percentage of households headed by a person 75 or older also increased 13 percent in the same amount of time.
- Amongst this growing population segment, the large majority report wanting to stay in their own homes as long as possible. According to the United States of Aging Survey from 2012, an estimated 90 percent of seniors are planning to continue living in their homes for at least the next five to 10 years.
But aside from the numbers, let’s consider a few of the driving reasons behind why more adults are choosing to age in place.
5 Reasons Older Adults are Staying in Their Homes
By choosing to make their home accessible to their changing needs as they age, older adults are able to maintain more of their independence, control and freedom. Many members of this growing population are remaining active in their communities well into their retirement and staying in accessible homes allows them to keep doing so.
Many people simply feel more comfortable in the homes they have grown to know and love. This familiarity can be an especially big comfort as maneuverability becomes more limited. Beyond this basic benefit, being comfortable in your living environment can also help reduce stress, which can improve overall health.
Quality of Life
Whether it’s as big of a reason as staying close to loved ones, or as small of a reason as continuing to shop in your favorite grocery store down the street, aging in place can help maintain—or even improve—the quality of life as we age. And, as is often the case, a happier person is a healthier person.
Home care is a rapidly growing industry with a wide variety of services available. Adults who choose to age in place can have more control and flexibility with the care they elect to receive in their own homes—as opposed to the more standardized care they might receive in a facility.
While remodeling a home to be safe and accessible for an aging adult can be costly, it’s still likely to be substantially less expensive than living several years in assisted living. The average cost of assisted living for the state of Virginia is slightly under $4,000 a month—and that number is only higher in northern Virginia, with some estimates greater than $6,000 per month.
Let’s say you move to an assisted living facility when you’re 70 years old. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to think you could live there for another 20+ years. So, while making upgrades to your home might have a higher upfront cost, it can significantly save you money in the long run.
But what exactly does creating an accessible home mean? Let’s investigate.
What Does “Aging in Place” Involve?
Creating an accessible home isn’t just about remaining independent in your home longer—it’s about remaining independent and safe in your home. This involves not only making sure the home you live in doesn’t pose a hazard to your safety, but also making sure you can continue to perform the necessary “activities of daily living,” or ADL.
ADLs are those basic things you do every day to take care of yourself: bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding and transferring. While most of the items on that list are probably self-explanatory, “transferring” refers to anytime you switch positions, whether that’s getting in and out of bed, going from outside to inside your home, or climbing in and out of the shower.
Depending on your needs and the layout of your home, the renovations you make could range from as simple as installing a few grab bars, to as comprehensive as building an accessible master bedroom and bathroom addition. Just remember: while the overall goal is to maintain your independence, it needs to be a safe independence.
With all the benefits of aging in place, it certainly does seem to be a trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And thanks to advancements in technology and home design, the accessible home is now more “accessible” than ever.