What is the best living situation for the golden years of life? The American population of older adults is growing, with 10,000 people turning 65 each day. When is the optimal time to make a move to assisted living or is it best to age in place in your home?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Let’s consider some pros and cons when you’re trying to find a place that is “just right” for you.

Assisted-Living Facilities

Assisted-living facilities offer services for people who need help performing daily tasks or who have some medical needs. This is a good option when a chronic disease becomes too hard to manage. Other considerations include physical and mental capacity changes.

Pros

  • Health services are offered, including nursing care with medication management and nurse aides to assist with activities of daily living.
  • Meal plans may be purchased to help ensure proper nutrition.
  • Social activities are often offered, which can stimulate feelings of friendship and community.
  • Some assisted-living facilities are part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), which can allow for independent living and increasing levels of medical care when needed. Assisted living, nursing home, and memory care may all be available within the same building or campus. This is especially advantageous when a couple with varying levels of need wants to stay together.

Cons

  • Some seniors may feel that they’re losing a level of independence and/or contact with friends and family.
  • Residents may be unsure of the quality of care they will receive.
  • Facilities can be expensive, depending on how many services are used and the level of care needed. Be sure to find out all fees in advance such as entrance, monthly, and service fees.

Aging in Place

This is a good option when older adults are independent with activities of daily living both physically and mentally.  However, it’s essential to have a solid support system with family or friends in the local area who are available to assist with intermittent personal and home care. There are technology options that are senior-friendly can support people in their homes, such as tablets, laptops, home security systems, and personal emergency response systems.

Pros

  • Staying at home provides a feeling of self-reliance and comfort living in familiar surroundings.
  • It’s more cost-effective to stay home than to pay for a residential facility.
  • It may be more comfortable for friends and family to visit.

Cons

  • Upkeep of the home can become overwhelming and costly. Older homes need constant maintenance both indoors and outdoors.
  • Physical and mental health changes make it more difficult to function, especially when living alone.
  • It may be necessary to make adaptations to the home such as installing ramps, an elevator or a chairlift to manage stairs and make the home accessible by wheelchair. Increased lighting may also be needed outside and inside the house. Seniors may also need to make changes in the kitchen and bathrooms to make them more accessible.

Families want the peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are safe, secure and happy. A decision regarding the right living situation can change as health issues appear slowly over time or quickly with a medical emergency. Open communication, proper planning, and financial determinations can make transitions easier.

Jean Cherry, RN, MBA, writes about seniors’ health and wellness on behalf of Walgreens. You can find a variety of products to assist with an independent senior’s lifestyle, such as lift chairs, at Walgreens.com.

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Jean Cherry