It happens to all of us eventually; we slow down, our health is not what it used to be, and living independently becomes harder.

Many people, as they age, face a difficult choice. Do they stay in their home, or do they move to a senior community where they have more help? Here are some factors to take into consideration.

Cost. It is often cheaper in the long run to age in place, as long as you have paid off your mortgage and have a decent amount of home equity. In the short term, home modifications can make for a considerable expense, especially if you have to put ina ramp. A home equity loan is often necessary to pay for major modifications. The Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends aging in place as a way to save money for seniors, their families, and Medicaid/Medicare. However, it is not cheaper
for everyone.

The house you are in. One problem common to seniors with declining mobility is increased difficulty using the stairs. It isnot uncommon to end up wanting or needing to move toa single story residence. Although stairlifts are helpful they can easily break down at the most inconvenient moment, which can include when you are halfway up or halfway down.

The climate of your area. Older people deal less well with cold winters and if you live in, say, the upper Midwest, the combination of winter cold and fall risks from snow and ice may make it desirable to move somewhere warmer. In some cases, too, doctors may recommend a move to a warmer and/c drier climate to control symptoms of arthritis.

How much help you need. Aging in place ceasesto be cheaper if full-time assistance is needed with medical matters or daily living. A live-in aide can cost $100,000 to $175,000 a year, depending on the area and the expertise needed. It can be much cheaper to move to a community where full-time help is on site, but you are not bearing the full cost. Many assisted living communities have nurses on-site 24/7 and can offer help with nutrition, physical therapy, etc.

Who is doing home maintenance? Home maintenance can sometimes be a challenge for young, healthy individuals, and can become overwhelming to seniors. Not everyone can rely on younger relatives to have time to do it. In that case, moving to a retirement community can relieve a lot of stress and reduce safety risks caused by maintenance simply not being done.

Where is your support network? If staying at home keeps you close to a supportive family and friends, it can be a better option than moving out of their reach. Conversely, if your family has scattered to the winds, it might make more sense to move to be closer to them, and often makes more sense to get an apartment over buying another house. Also, your family may or may not be up to giving you all of the support you need, which can lead to resentment and family conflict.

Do you have access to a community? Some seniors feel isolated in their own homes. Many retirement communities offer group activities and “resort styleā€¯ living that encourages you to get out, meet your neighbors, and continue with (or start) activities you enjoy.

Julio
julio@nwaids.org

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