We wrote last week about aging in place and how to age well from home. For some, this is very possible and the ideal solution! And for others, assisted living might give them more of the things they need to enjoy their golden years. Whatever your situation (or the situation of a loved one) may be, it’s important to know the pros and cons of both and to understand that no two people are the same. The decision to move to an assisted living community is a challenging one, but doing good research beforehand is half the battle. Use this article to expand your understanding and figure out which is better for you.
It’s not uncommon to feel some anxiety towards moving to an assisted living community, but oftentimes people find that there are a lot of great benefits to doing so. We frequently hear people saying “I wish I’d moved here sooner!” Whether assisted living is right for you or you’d still rather stay at home, take a minute to consider these important factors:
How Much Assistance Do I Need?
We all need different levels of support at varying times in our lives. One 80-year-old might be more independent and self-sufficient than another person who is in their mid-60s. The important thing is to know is how much assistance you need now, and how that may change down the road.
To understand how much assistance you need, start by making a list of everyday things you might need help with. Then do the same for a weekly and monthly tasks that have become difficult to do on your own. Are you able to cook yourself every day? Do you handle your own medications? Are there any health care needs that require consistent assistance? Asking these questions and writing down the answers will give you an overview of your situation and help you better understand your needs.
Once you’ve written down how much help is needed, assess who is available to help. Does a child or grandchild live with you and is able to assist with daily needs, like groceries or giving medication? Is someone nearby to help you with weekly needs or to run errands? Are you fairly independent but need more social interaction? Take a look at the help you already have and consider whether or not all of your needs and wants are being met in your current situation.
For some people, this simple task of listing needs and taking a look at what needs are met will shed light on the situation to make a decision obvious. If you’re an older adult whose daily necessities are not being met, assisted living is more likely to provide you with the support you need. If just a few of your weekly or monthly needs are falling through the cracks, staying at home and getting help or hiring a caregiver could be better.
Pros and Cons of Aging In Place
In general, living at home and working with an in-home caregiver means you’re staying in your current home and hiring someone to help you on a daily or near-daily basis. A professional caregiver might visit or move into the house and provide supervision and support with various tasks. The goal is to make staying at home as safe as possible. Assistance can range from meeting transportation needs to providing companionship and being there “just in case” to helping with toileting, dressing, and more.
The pros of aging at home and hiring a caregiver include:
- Staying in a familiar environment
- Receiving one-on-one care tailored to your specific needs
- Control over who is providing the care
- Consistency of attention from a particular person
- Flexibility with care
There are plenty of great reasons to stay at home, but there is also a downside you’ll need to consider. For instance:
- Modifications might be required for safety and/or mobility
- Full-time care can be expensive
- Some health issues cannot be dealt with at home
- Home maintenance could become an issue
- Fewer opportunities to be socially interactive
What are the Advantages of Assisted Living?
For some, staying at home isn’t a safe option. The good news is there are plenty of great things about moving into an assisted living facility, and many people will tell you that they are glad they made the move. Different communities offer different amenities and varying levels of care and supervision, but generally, there are a few major advantages to making the move.
In general, the advantages of living in an assisted living community include:
- More safety, with care staff available 24/7
- A wide array of activities and social interaction
- Food preparation is taken care of for you
- Assistance with other daily chores like laundry and med management
- Family can focus on relationships instead of caregiving
- Level of care can be adjusted as needed
Oftentimes people don’t realize how much work goes into living at home. With assisted living, a lot of that load is lifting, allowing you to really enjoy the golden years and do the things that matter most. If your health is a problem, having the added peace of mind that there are professionals nearby at all times can also be invaluable.
For some, the most important issues to consider when deciding between staying at home or moving to an assisted living facility is your finances. You’ll need to have a firm grasp of your financial situation and understand what it will cost to stay at home or to move. Many people assume assisted living is too expensive for them, but that isn’t always the case. Others believe that what it cost in the past to live at home will be the cost of staying at home in the future, and that is not always the case either. Before you can determine whether living at home or moving into an assisted living facility is right for you, you’ll need to know how each choice will work with your budget.
Determining the cost of either option accurately can be difficult, but you’ll at least need to have a general overview of expenses. For instance, if you choose to stay at home and need to hire an around-the-clock caregiver, you can estimate the annual cost of that. But, if you’re living independently at the moment and aren’t able to foresee what the future holds, you’ll need to guess at just how expensive it will be in the coming years.
Other Financial Factors
There are also secondary factors to consider when it comes to calculating the cost of living at home versus living in an assisted living facility. For instance, do you have family nearby that can help? Will there be costs associated with selling your current home if you choose to move into assisted living now? Will you need to invest in any home modifications if you are staying home?
Everyone’s considerations are different, so it’s important to take time to assess the situation and put a realistic price on either option. This can help you determine what options you have and how much of a factor cost needs to be when making your final decision.
When you begin to explore the cost of assisted living facilities, call different places in the area you wish to live and get pricing information from each community. This can help you rule out places that are not in your budget and give you an idea of what you can afford.
If you are looking for round-the-clock care in a facility in a specific location, you might learn that what you’ve found is out of your budget. You might find it’s cheaper to stay in your home and invest in the needed modifications. On the other hand, your ideal facility in the perfect location might be right in your budget and end up being a more cost-effective option than staying at home.
The best thing you can do is keep an open mind and consider all of the factors affecting cost. Now is not the time to eliminate an option. You’ll want to gather as much information as you can, and view the complete picture before making an actual decision.
Calculating the Costs of Staying at Home
To get a general idea of the cost of living at home as you age, consider the following expenses:
- House-care attendants needed, multiplied by the hourly caregiver rate
- Personal care and health supplies
- Cost of groceries
- Cost of maintaining the home
- Exterior maintenance
- Property taxes
- Utilities, water, etc.
Calculating the Cost of Assisted Living
In general, moving to an assisted living community will have the following fees:
- The base rate you’ll pay each month
- Additional charges as care is upgraded
- Personal care supplies
- Housekeeping and laundry fees (if not included)
- Food costs (if not included)
The best thing to do is to contact assisted living communities in your area and schedule a visit. While there you can ask for information about the costs and see what you like! Take this list with you and ask if there are any additional fees. Some facilities will only give you the base cost of monthly residency and bring up other fees later. Knowing that there might be a cost for things you need can help you ask the right questions and make an informed decision that is right for you. It might be a good idea to talk to residents and get their perspective on day-to-day life as well. Making the Right Decision for You
If you’re having a tough time deciding whether you want to continue to live at home and make adjustments, or if you would prefer an assisted living facility, take a look at the following questions:
- Do you need assistance getting around?
- Will your home require modifications?
- Who will help with caregiving?
- What is your lifestyle?
- How is your health?
- Which is more affordable in the long run?
It can help to write down your thoughts on each question and ask your closest loved ones to do the same. They might raise issues you hadn’t considered and give you more to think about when making your decision.
Making informed decisions when it comes to senior living arrangements, especially for long-term care, is crucial for your happiness and to your estate.
Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong answer – it only matters what the best decision for you and your family is. Your health, happiness, and safety should be the essential factors, and whatever you choose, make sure it’s the right choice for you.