For most seniors, having the option to remain living in their home as they age is extremely important. According to a survey conducted by AARP on Home and Community Preferences of the 45+ Community, 88% of Americans over the age of 65 reported the desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible.1 Staying at home, often referred to as aging in place, has many positive impacts on the lives of seniors. The list below outlines five benefits of aging in place.
Maintaining independence is important to the physical and emotional wellbeing of seniors. Living at home allows them to maintain their independence by putting them in control of their day to day lives. Whereas seniors who live at home have flexibility in their daily schedules, assisted living facilities often come with regimented schedules for mealtimes, curfews, and visitation. Adjusting to those schedules can lead to feeling a loss of independence.
Aging in place also enables seniors to maintain their community support systems, which provide a sense of independence and allows them to seek assistance from friends and neighbors when it is needed. Being involved in a community allows seniors to help others, and receive help when they need it, which can enable them to continue to thrive on their own. It takes time to feel at home in a community and to build a support system within it. Seniors who move to an assisted living facility must start all over when they move, and some may become withdrawn and depressed if the effort of starting again is too overwhelming.
2. Mental Wellbeing
Seniors who age in place have the benefit of staying in a familiar environment. While new environments can be anxiety inducing for some seniors, studies have also proven that seniors who stay at home retain their mental faculties at a greater rate than those who go to a facility. Living in a familiar neighborhood surrounded by friends or family can slow cognitive failure. A 2014 study by Bryan Hames, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, found that the rate of cognitive decline is 70% less for seniors who have frequent social contact than those who do not.2
Aging in place also helps with memory retention. Establishing daily routines of caring for themselves and their homes can help seniors’ brains transfer important tasks into long term memory, making them less likely to be forgotten over time. According to Jed Levine, Executive Vice President and director of programs and services for the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, having a routine helps seniors’ with failing memory remember from becoming distracted and forgetting their daily tasks. He says that “even if there is little or no conscious awareness of time, routine helps ground them.3
3. Access to Family
Family can be a key element to a comfortable and positive retirement. In a 2015 survey by the National Council on Aging, 57% of seniors attributed having a loving family to helping them remain positive as they age.4 Aging in place allows seniors to remain close to family. Visits are not restricted to assisted living home hours and family traditions do not have to change to accommodate an assisted living facility. Loved ones can stop by at any time and stay as long as they wish when seniors choose to age at home.
4. Lower Expenses
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be cost prohibitive and exhaust retirement savings at an alarming rate. While these costs can sometimes be covered by health insurance or long term care insurance, more often than not the expenses are paid for out of pocket. The Network for studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement reports that assisted living facilities typically cost $77,000-$88,000 a year.5 Aging in place as an alternative to assisted living facilities can save a considerable amount of money, even if modifications need to be made to the home.
For many people, including seniors, their home is the largest asset and they have spent a large portion of their lives making it their own. Leaving this familiar and much loved space can be emotionally devastating for many seniors. Staying at home allows seniors to hold onto belongings that symbolize a lifetime of memories. These belongings provide comfort and can serve as a reminder of fond past memories during times when those memories may be more difficult to recall. There are countless ways seniors can customize their current homes to accommodate aging in place while allowing them to retain the comforts of home they have always had.
If you would like to age in place but need funds to hire caretakers or make modifications to your home, a Reverse Mortgage may be an option for converting your home equity into the funds you need. To learn more contact a licensed loan advisor at 1 (800)976-6211 or click here to submit your request.
1 AARP. Home and Community Preferences of the 45+ Population https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/home-community-services-10.pdf
2 Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. How Societal Connections Keep Seniors Healthy https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_social_connections_keep_seniors_healthy2 Aging
3 Care.com. Why a Daily Routine is Helpful for People with Dementia. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/daily-routine-for-people-with-dementia-156855.htm
4 The United States of Aging. The 2015 United States of Aging Survey National Findings. https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/USA15-National-Fact-Sheet-Final.pdf
5 Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement. Medical Spending of the U.S. Elderly. http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=139768