Deciding whether to spend retirement at home or in a senior living community is often emotional, leaving practical aspects out of the process. But the costs of senior living versus staying home should be considered so seniors make the choice that is best for them, emotionally, physically, and financially, now and into the future.
Early in retirement, the family home may feel safe and accessible to healthy seniors, but the familiar surroundings often give a sense of security that, down the road a few years, may be false. According to the forbes.com article, “Will Your Home Be Ready For Aging In Place?,” only about 1% of the estimated 100 million homes in the United States are “conducive to aging in place” simply because they were not designed for every stage of life.
For example, many have stairs to climb, shower/tub combinations rather than walk-in showers, halls and doorways that aren’t wide enough for wheelchairs, entrances with steps, and living spaces that are divided up, rather than open, making navigation more difficult and adequate lighting a challenge. Other problem aspects include basement laundry rooms, flooring that is difficult to navigate, door and faucet knobs that become hard to grasp and turn, and no assistive devices like grab bars in bathrooms. Then there is the cost of home security and personal alert systems that may be needed to ensure a senior remains safe at home.
While some of these are easily remedied, others can be costly, or even impossible depending on the home. According to the fixr.com article, “How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Home for Aging in Place?,” the national average cost is $9,500 and costs can go as high as $50,000.
On the other hand, the best senior living communities like Thrive Senior Living are designed specifically for seniors and are not only secure 24/7 but meet stringent standards for safety and accessibility throughout. So, the costs of senior living associated with safety and accessibility are included in the monthly fee, no construction required!
Another potential cost of living at home in retirement is in-home care. While many families can help with occasional housekeeping, lawn care and even personal care, those who need continuous help often turn to paid in-home caregivers because they believe the costs of senior living are much higher.
But, according to the consumeraffairs.com article, “What is the cost of in-home care?,” the costs for non-medical home care can be considerable, with median costs in 2020 reaching $24 per hour and monthly costs at $4,500. And that one cost, added to all the other expenses of living at home (i.e., food, mortgage, utilities, repairs, maintenance, etc.) can be a real eye opener for seniors and their families.
Conversely, the national median costs of senior living care in assisted living are $4,300 per month. And the costs of senior living include housing, meals, most utilities, planned amenities such as activities, trips and classes, services like transportation and onsite hair salons and barber shops, and a safe and secure community. For help defining what is needed and calculate the associated costs in senior living and at home, try the “Assisted Living vs. Home Care Affordability Calculator” from payingforseniorcare.com.
One aspect of living at home often isn’t considered costly, and that is the cost of isolation. Seniors living alone at home can find themselves more and more isolated as friends move or pass away and they find it difficult to get around on their own. And these costs can be heavy. According to the National Institute on Aging article, “Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks,” they include increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, obesity, lower immunity, anxiety and depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and death. Add to that the findings by AARP that seniors who are socially isolated are 29% more likely to need costly skilled nursing care (which is often barely covered by Medicare) and the costs go up.
That’s why senior living communities make socialization a priority. They know how important it is for seniors to stay engaged, spend time with friends and peers, and enjoy learning new things and pursuing their passions. The more time senior’s spend in the world, not just watching it go by, the healthier and happier they are — and it’s all included in the senior living package!
The costs of senior living are often overestimated but the reality is the costs of senior living at home are very comparable. At Thrive Senior Living we can help seniors and their families make the right choice at the time that is just right for them. For more about choosing the right senior living community, download our Family Decision Guide. Learn more about Thrive’s communities, housing choices and amenities by contacting us today!