Aging at Home
“Aging at home” is the term used for those who want to stay living in their own homes as they age. Moving is hard and stressful because it disrupts your entire way of life, so it’s understandable to want to stay in your own home, especially if it is a place you’ve lived for many years. Studies show that seniors who are able to safely stay in their own homes have a better quality of life and health outcomes.
Aging at home safely is the key concern, though. As you or a loved one ages, you may begin to have trouble climbing stairs, navigating the bathtub, or carrying groceries. And after the loss of a spouse, some people are faced with responsibilities they’ve never had to worry about before like managing finances, cooking healthy meals (for one), doing the laundry, and even remembering to take medications. Staying active and visiting with friends are important to maintain and can become more difficult due to decreased mobility and reduced ability to drive. Bringing in a home health care provider to help with household chores, personal tasks, and health issues can make aging in your home a lot easier. Nearly any type of help is available, but at a cost.
The costs to age at home will be different for each person and dependent on your needs. There are three categories to consider: monthly expenses, home improvements/repairs, and any age-related modifications needed to accommodate health issues.
To start, it is helpful to chart out your regular monthly expenses like mortgage/rent payments, utilities, cable/internet, groceries, transportation, church tithing, and social activities. You should also consider the cost of a home health provider as well. This cost will depend on how often and how long you’d like a caregiver in your home and if you need any overnight or on-call hours. In 2020, the average hourly cost of home care in Michigan was $23. Keep in mind that if you need more than five hours a day of home health care, it may make more sense financially to move to a senior community with assisted living.
Next, we recommend mapping out any expected home improvements or repairs needed in the coming months. This includes any repairs that keep your home safe, warm, and comfortable. They can range in cost from a couple hundred dollars for a furnace tune-up to a few thousand dollars for a new roof. Putting these costs into an approximate timeline can help you plan and save for a “rainy day”.
The last set of costs to detail out would be any modifications to accommodate health-related issues. These could be as simple as installing grab bars and non-slip floor mats in the bathroom. However, they may also include larger modifications like a walk-in bathtub, widening doorways to accommodate equipment, or building an entrance ramp. Most homes are not built to fit walkers & wheelchairs, hospital beds, or other large equipment.
Putting all these costs down on paper will provide an accurate and detailed picture of what it will take for you or your loved one to age in your home.
We know it can be stressful to figure out if you or a loved one can not only afford to age at home, but knowing if it is the right choice to make and if it can be done safely. If you’re undecided if aging at home is right for you or your loved one, but don’t like the idea of moving into a “nursing home”, you should check out our previous blog “Five Myths of Senior Living” to see why senior living communities are not the traditional nursing home they’re often mistaken for.
Additionally, these financial planning worksheets from Where You Live Matters – A Senior Resource can help as you detail out the different costs associated with staying in your home. If you still have questions or concerns, Sunset is always here to help figure it out! Please contact us anytime at 616-457-2770 to speak with a Life Counselor who can assist in deciding if aging at home is right for you or your loved one.