Caring for a loved one as they age creates a lot of questions along the way.
Can I support them with everything they need? Should I make their home safer for them as they age? Is there a benefit to letting them age in place (i.e., live out their days in their own home) or should we look into specialized communities? When should we choose one or the other?
These kinds of questions are bound to arise, especially as your loved one’s needs escalate. Each situation is unique, but in this article, we’re going to focus on the benefits of letting your loved one age in place and help you determine when that is the right option.
What is Aging in Place?
Before we get into the details and benefits of aging in place, let’s define that term. Aging in place is the ability to live out your days in your own home safely, comfortably, and as independently as possible. (Source)
According to AARP, nearly 90% of elderly adults want to age in place. But as we age, we may experience challenges including difficulty with vision, mobility issues, hearing loss, cognitive decline, and more. The reality of whether or not your loved one will be able to age in place will depend largely on their health, home, community, and any complications they’re experiencing from the aging process. If you think your loved one is a good candidate for aging in place safely, here are some reasons to consider allowing and/or supporting them to do so.
Benefit 1: Self-Esteem
As your loved one ages, they may become much more protective of their independence. Sometimes this is because, progressively, people may start offering to do things for them or pointing out changes in their abilities. Additionally, they’re noticing (and potentially experiencing frustration over) changes in their mobility, vision, cognition, and more.
Allowing your loved one to age in place at home nurtures that independent spirit. It gives them reassurance that they are still in control of their life, even as things around them (and within them) start to change.
Benefit 2: Lower Costs
Housing your loved one in a dedicated facility can be incredibly expensive. The average cost in the United States for a private room in a nursing home is over $100,000 per year. (Source) To compare that cost to a similar lifestyle at home, consider the cost of mortgage and utilities, the level of (and cost of) care needed, and the average hourly wage to receive that help (typically around $20.00 per hour) and multiply it by the expected number of hours per month they’ll need assistance.
While it’s not always possible, if your loved one can safely live independently in their home with part-time assistance, it’s typically much more affordable than round-the-clock care facilities.
Benefit 3: Comfort and Quality of Life
The next major benefit to aging in place is the built-in sense of comfort and familiarity your loved one will feel in their own home. As the saying goes, “there’s no place like home!” This is why many seniors rank their home’s importance based on its emotional significance over its monetary value. (Source)
Your loved one has a community, personal belongings, (potentially) loved ones that live nearby, habits, routines, and more already established in their home. Especially in the case of minor cognitive decline, maintaining as much of the status quo as possible can be as much about comfort as it is about safety and security.
Benefit 4: Cleanliness
While nursing homes are not necessarily unclean, gathering large quantities of a vulnerable population together in one place can make disease outbreaks more likely. (Source)
As we saw with the pandemic, seniors in nursing care facilities were at incredibly high risk because of circumstances outside of their control (like the cleanliness of the facility, the health of those around them, and their inability to isolate themselves). (Source) The control over the cleanliness and maintenance of their own environment is another benefit to aging in place.
Closing Thoughts: Is Aging in Place Right for Your Loved One?
Is aging in place right for your loved one? There is no right or wrong answer, and it’s normal to feel stress or guilt when comparing the pros and cons of each.
While there are many benefits to keeping your loved one(s) at home as they age in place, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If your loved one has round-the-clock care or advanced medical care needs, for example, then aging in a facility may be the better option. Consider discussing the options with your loved one, their doctor/care team, and any other family members that may be able to step in to help out before you make a choice.
For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to call us at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Paid to Care for Your Loved One?
If you are a caregiver for your loved one, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver. Becoming a caregiver is difficult and expensive–out-of-pocket annual costs average in the thousands for a family caregiver. The state of California offers several paths to receiving at least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.Share this post: