A survey conducted by AARP in 2018 found that 3 out of 4 Americans over the age of 50 would prefer to “age in place”. You or your aging parents may be among them.
There are a number of services available for seniors who want to age in place. Let’s begin by reviewing what they are.
Household maintenance. As we get older, keeping a home properly maintained can become a challenge, especially if we become less mobile. And if important repairs aren’t attended to, safety hazards can arise. That’s why paying someone to look after your property – if you’re not fully able to – can make a big difference.
Home modifications. Homes that were good for raising families aren’t always ideal for aging in place. Multi-bedroom, multi-level houses can be hard to get around if negotiating stairs has become an issue. Sometimes these sorts of barriers can be addressed by special home modifications (e.g. outdoor ramps, indoor stairlifts, or the relocation of a bathroom and/or laundry facilities to the main floor). Similarly, safety in the bathroom can be improved through the judicious use of equipment like grab bars.
Transportation. This is especially important if you’re no longer able to drive yourself wherever you need to go. Lack of transportation can cut you off from important social connections and make it difficult to get to important medical appointments. Families and friends may try to help out, but they may only be able to do so much. Paid or volunteer transportation services can help to fill the gap.
At-home personal care. This can include anything from taking blood pressure, to giving medication reminders, to preparing meals, to providing physical assistance with dressing or bathing. Home health aides can provide personal at-home care services that range from a few hours a day to around-the-clock live-in care.
At-home health care. Some healthcare professionals who work for at-home health care agencies – like occupational therapists, social workers, or home health nurses – will provide services where you live. This reduces some of the need to leave your home to receive healthcare services (although it doesn’t eliminate it).
Is At-Home Care a Good Choice for Me?
Whether these at-home care services will be sufficient to keep you in your own home will depend on a number of factors.
The layout of your current home. If changes in your health status mean that it’s now difficult for you to live in your current home, how practical is it to make it more accessible? Are the modifications you’d have to make too extensive or too costly? If that’s the case, would moving to a new home that’s more accessible make more sense?
Location. If you have to travel long distances for things like medical appointments, shopping, or socializing with people you know – and driving yourself everywhere isn’t an option – are there enough transportation services to get you where you need to go when friends or family aren’t available to take you?
Availability of services. Are the at-home care services you need actually available in your community? Even if at-home care service agencies serve your area, they may have trouble recruiting staff. This may mean cancelled visits, forcing you to scramble for alternatives at the last minute.
Cost. At-home care services are often charged for on an hourly basis. As your needs increase, these costs can add up quickly to the point where they simply become unaffordable, even if you have insurance. At a certain point, it’s actually more expensive to receive care in your own home than in a senior living community. Check out our article that provides tips on how to compare home care and assisted living costs.
Continued strain on family. No matter how much at-home care you have in place, family members are usually still providing a lot of support. Are they reaching their limit?
Consider each of these factors when deciding whether in-home care makes sense for you or someone you know.
A move to a senior living community may be an attractive alternative. They’re designed to be senior friendly. Property maintenance, housekeeping services, and transportation services are often included. A wide range of social activities are offered on-site. And personal care can be provided as needed by community staff.
If you’re interested in exploring senior living communities as an option, check out our free Senior Living Options Guide.