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Age at Home or Move to a Senior Living Community?

Age at home or move to a senior living community? Ask yourself these 15 questions to help inform the conversation as you make this important decision.

You already know the choice of where you live affects your wellness and longevity. And you also know it’s easier to talk with your family when you’ve already thought things through for yourself. So, to prepare to make an informed, proactive choice about whether you’d rather stay in your current home or move to a retirement community, start here with these questions.

Questions to consider before deciding to age in place
Questions to consider before deciding to move to a retirement community

Questions to consider before deciding to age in place:

  • Would you rather be alone most of the time, or do you want easily available access to companions and social activities? While aging in place can be a solitary experience, a retirement community minimizes solitude. Choose which you’ll be most comfortable with over the long term.
  • If you and your family decide aging in place is the best choice, will you still have reasonable access to senior organizations, volunteerism or other socializing activities outside your home? Isolation is a serious health risk for seniors.
  • Do you have family and friends who can reach your home quickly, any time of day or night, if you have an urgent need that occurs between caregiver visits? Having a ready back–up plan is a necessity, because you never know when you’ll need to fill gaps between caregiver visits.
  • Is your home aging-friendly? If not, can you afford to make aging-friendly modifications? Think about bathroom renovations, zero-step entries, improved lighting and widened doorways. Needed modifications like these can be costly.
  • When you’re no longer comfortable or confident behind the wheel, what will you do about transportation? Lack of easy access to transportation can result in escalating problems, including isolation, missed medical appointments and lagging nutrition. How will you get around after you hang up the keys?
  • Will your budget support around-the-clock home care if it becomes necessary? While most older adults believe they’ll never need long-term care, research proves about 70% of us will need care at some point in our lives. And with the average hourly cost for caregivers at about $19 to $20 per hour, serious consideration of the prospect now is sensible.

Questions to consider before deciding to move to a retirement community:

  • Do you prefer to know help is nearby if you need it? Senior living communities combine independence with security.
  • Would you rather not worry about home maintenance and repairs? The prospect of a lifestyle with diminished homeownership responsibilities motivates many to make a move to senior living.
  • Are your adult children and other loved ones living nearby where they can help with hiring, screening and scheduling caregivers for you in your home? A senior living community manages the care you receive in the community – from services and amenities in your independent lifestyle and throughout the continuum of care.
  • Are you still growing? A senior living community will make it easy to stretch body and mind daily, with convenient access to a host of activities.
  • Could you see yourself leaving at least some of the cooking and cleanup to someone else? Well-balanced meals served restaurant-style in the dining room are a perk most communities offer.
  • Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Do family and friends worry about your safety? Senior living communities offer round-the-clock security staffed by people who’ll know you by name and watch out for you. Getting away for the holidays? They’ll watch over your residence while you’re away.
  • Will you need transportation for errands or appointments? Most senior living communities offer some type of transportation service – either regularly scheduled or as needed.
  • Are you concerned about managing your medications? Professional medication management is commonly offered to residents of assisted living and memory care communities.
  • Do you ever worry about becoming a burden to your family? The move to a senior living community takes care of that. In fact, residents often say their move is a gift to their adult children, who can thereafter be confident that Mom and Dad are safe and happy, with a plan for the what-ifs.

Take your time. Think through the questions. Where you live matters. When it’s time to talk things over with your family, you’ll be ready to make a thoughtful decision – and the right choice for you.

Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.

Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey
2011 AgeWave and Vi Senior Living Report