The Economics of Aging in Place
If you are a senior or a family caregiver, you have probably heard a health professional of some kind use the term “age in place.” We know many adult children don’t really understand what that means.
In general, aging in place is used to describe a thoughtfully developed plan for allowing a senior to age in the setting they consider home. Typically that means their private residence or the home of an adult child.
One popular reason seniors and families go this route is because of finances. Most people believe that once the older adult’s mortgage is paid off or if they move in with a family member, aging in place is the least expensive senior care option.
Unfortunately, the mortgage is only one expense that is eliminated. There will still be property taxes to pay, home maintenance and repair expenses, as well utilities, insurance, housekeeping and lawn care costs. Many families also find the home requires modifications, such as ramps, grab bars or a walk-in shower, to keep them safe.
And, sooner or later, the senior will likely need in-home caregivers and some type of technology to keep them safe and healthy.
Home Care to Help Seniors Age in Place
In-home care comes in many forms. In the early days, a family often provides the support a senior loved one needs on their own. Sometimes families hire private caregivers based on word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family, and supervise them on the senior’s behalf. But as the need for care increases, these avenues become less and less successful. When that happens, the next step is often to hire a professional home care agency.
Home care agencies typically cost more than hiring your own caregiver directly. The advantage for seniors and their families is that if their normal caregiver falls ill, the agency likely has a back-up caregiver they can send out. Families aren’t panicked trying to find help in a hurry.
Caregivers provide support with the activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming), as well as home management tasks. Most can also help with transportation, meal preparations and some form of medication reminders.
This type and amount of senior care comes at a significant cost. In 2015, the national average for home health aide services in the U.S. was $45, 760 per year.
When you add up all of the true costs of aging in place, a move to an assisted living community often becomes a safer, more financially sound solution.
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