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Assisted Living or Aging in Place? How to Choose

Our thanks to Caroline James of elderaction.org, for this contribution to our blog.

 

Where to live when you’re elderly is the type of decision you want to make before life forces you to do so. If you don’t, you may discover you have fewer options than you’d hoped. Seniors who have a disability are sometimes unable to return home, and without time to spare, they have no choice but to move into whichever care facility has space.

Unfortunately, it’s also exactly the type of decision you want to avoid. No one likes thinking about losing their independence or developing an age-related disability. However, you can’t ignore the fact that two in three seniors will need long-term care as they age.

So, how do you choose where to live and receive care when you’re older? These are the three most important factors to consider.

Location

Some communities are more suited to aging in place than others. For instance, seniors who live near medical facilities, caregiving agencies, public transit, and other important amenities have an easier time aging at home than rural seniors.

Care Needs

Seniors who need a lot of daily support benefits from assisted living, where they don’t have to worry about coordinating and budgeting for in-home care. On the other hand, seniors in good health can retain full independence by aging in place. So, consider your health today and how it may change in the future; if you have chronic health conditions or mobility problems now, you’re more likely to need full-time care later on.

Cost

Assisted living averages $48,000 a year — and that cost is steadily rising. While expensive, assisted living may cost less than you’d spend aging at home. At $22 an hour, the average cost of part-time care is lower than assisted living, but seniors who need round-the-clock care can save money by moving to assisted living.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living communities offer a supportive living environment where seniors can get help with day-to-day activities, such as taking medications, preparing meals, and managing personal care. Many assisted living facilities offer perks like fitness centers, gardens, and spas.

Since every assisted living community has its own personality, you’ll want to tour several in the San Francisco area before making a decision. Keep in mind that different communities offer different levels of independence. While some have communal facilities and cater specifically to seniors needing in-home care, others offer apartments and studios for seniors who are still self-sufficient but want some basic assistance with housekeeping and healthcare. Prices also range widely in San Francisco, with assisted living costs ranging from $1,695 to $11,270 a month. Factor your budget and your needs to narrow your search for the right assisted living facility.

How to Age in Place

If you’re in good health, you may be thinking of aging in place. However, are you sure your home is the right one to age in? While most seniors prefer to age in place, many don’t live in a home suited to senior living. They might not pose an obstacle now, but staircases, narrow doorways, and dimly lit spaces become a safety hazard in your 80s.

Some seniors opt to remodel their current home while others choose to buy a new house better suited to aging in place. When making your decision, consider not only the cost but also convenience. The cost savings offered by downsizing may be modest, but moving to a newer home means fewer repairs to worry about during retirement. You’ll also be able to settle in within weeks instead of waiting months for a remodel to finish.

Whatever you choose, don’t wait to think about where you’ll live when you’re older. If you decide to move to assisted living, you’ll need time to prepare your budget and find the perfect facility for your golden years. And if you decide that you want to age in place, starting now means you have many years to enjoy your ideal home.