“I want to move in a nursing home and have strangers take care of me,” said no senior in the past years. On the contrary, studies show that our elders prefer to grow old in their own homes, even if aging comes with unparalleled health, economic, independence, and social challenges. The “Aging in Place” movement is becoming stronger every day and benefits our parents and grandparents tremendously. On the other hand, it is up to us to offer them the right conditions, so their choice works to their advantage.
What Is the Aging in Place Paradigm?
As cliché as it may sound, the adage “home is where the heart is” makes more and more sense to people in their golden age who do not want to leave their homes and move to smaller condos, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities, and so on. The “Aging in Place” movement refers to seniors who make the conscious choice of remaining in their homes for as long as they can while benefiting from all the comforts and support they need to live independent, healthy, and safe lives.
According to an AARP study, 90% of seniors in the United States want to remain living in their homes for as long as possible. One evident issue is that thorough planning for “Aging in Place” is mandatory. Since aging changes everyone profoundly, your senior parents or grandparents will progressively face diminished mobility and agility, lower organ functioning, diminished cognitive prowess, reduced mental and physical endurance, acute or chronic diseases, higher risks of accidents, and so on.
Creating a place of residence for a senior to safely and gracefully age in place requires not only home redesigns, but also the use of assistive technologies, the employment of professional caregivers or geriatric care managers, safe proofing the house, and so on.
In this context, people might wonder what the advantages of Aging in Place are as opposed to nursing homes or assisted living.
The Benefits of the Aging in Place Movement for Our Seniors
Offering your elderly parents and family members decent living conditions and acceptable quality of life is the moral thing to do. Some seniors do need permanent physical and mental health care, indeed.
However, when it comes to costs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found out that aging in place is less expensive for the senior or the family in comparison to life in an assisted living facility or nursing home. While aging in place does come with a hefty price tag (home modifications, technology, the hiring of caregivers, etc.), a private room in a nursing home can break your bank up to $80,000 or more a year. Besides the long-term costs, here are some other benefits of aging in place for you or your family!
1. Safer Environments
One might think that assisted living or nursing homes provide seniors with a safe, peaceful environment, where nothing wrong happens to them as they are under the constant supervision of trained professionals.
While it is true in some cases, our elders are not 100% safe in nursing homes. The public knows little about such matters, but nursing home abuse, negligence, and injuries are more common than you think. Ask any nursing home abuse lawyer about the victims of injuries in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Either negligence or intentional abuse can lead to physical injuries, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, medical errors, financial exploitation, and even death. In aging in place environments, it is not likely you will need to consult an attorney for your parent’s bruises, bedsores, eloping, malnutrition, and so on.
2. Healthier Environments
If the recent global health crisis taught us anything, it taught us that if you gather more people under the same roof, you increase the risk of bacterial and viral contaminations exponentially. In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, studies showed that the residents presented worse health outcomes than the seniors who decided to age in place. Moreover, the risks of acquiring life-threatening diseases are higher in such facilities.
3. Maintaining Independence
Aging in place comes with challenges and changes, but our seniors can still keep a certain degree of independence. While their physical and mental decline could require the support of professional caregivers, family, friends, and community members, our seniors can still maintain control over their daily routines, activities, decisions, etc. Aging in place means living your life with dignity, something that elders in nursing homes do not necessarily enjoy.
4. Improved Comfort
Living in your own home is more comfortable than living together with a bunch of strangers under the supervision of people that have to divide their attention among multiple nursing home residents. The emotional value of their own home is crucial for any senior who needs familiarity, security, and comfort in their golden years. While many adapt quickly to their new modified houses, devices, and personal nurses, most seniors in nursing homes experience homesickness, frustration, loneliness, and severe discomfort.
Aging is unforgiving. The physical, mental, and emotional changes and challenges are inevitable, even if some seniors start experiencing them around the age of 50. In contrast, others do not share any of them until they are 70-80 years old. For this reason, preparedness and planning are crucial. However, offering our seniors improved quality of life, and the chance of living healthily and safely in their own homes is something we should all take into consideration for our loved ones and us.