Where do YOU want to age? It may seem like a long way off, but there are a lot of considerations and options in making this decision, plus many unknowns.
Study after study shows that a great majority of us want to “age in place.” This vague phrase simply means that we want to remain in the homes where we have lived for a long time, where we made memories with family and friends, where we know our neighbors, and have established familiar routes to places we frequent—even when age or health-related changes make it difficult to care for ourselves safely. One AARP study found that 80% of respondents over age 45 expressed a preference to age in place even when assistance is needed.
A recent Wall Street Journal article found that there will be a significant increase in people in need of home care services due to a confluence of aging Baby Boomers and the desire to age in place rather than in a facility. The article stated that the “Social Security Administration estimates that 9,600 people a day will turn 65 in 2015, up from 7,800 a day in 2010.”
Is There a Right Age for a Move?
Even those individuals and families that choose to move to senior living, assisted living or a nursing home seem to be choosing to postpone that move for as long as possible. According to an article by Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions, “the average age of individuals moving into senior living is now the same as for assisted living—84.” He notes that in the 1980s and 1990s, the average age was 78 for people who moved into senior living apartments.
In further looking at statistics on Baby Boomers, it appears there will be a 25% increase in people age 65 to 74 by 2019 and only a 6% increase in those 85 and older. Translation: there will be a greater number of people who are aging in place and needing assistance than those moving into facilities in the next few years.
Who Will Help?
So if these individuals, when given the choice, don’t want to move when they need assistance, how will they manage? Often times the answer—and preference—by these individuals is family, but that is not always an ideal solution.
Statistics show that family caregivers have a high rate of stress and burnout—perhaps because they are in a role for which they are unprepared. Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, a report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, showed that family caregivers who provide 21 or more hours of care per week have the highest stress (a 4.4 rating out of 5) and this caregiving causes emotional and financial strains due to missed work. Family caregivers can even push themselves to the point of becoming ill and needing their own care.
While there is a cost to hiring a professional caregiver, and admittedly that can cause stress, it can also provide help for both the caregiver and the care recipient. This solution allows for the desire to age in place to continue.
Living longer is an incredible feat, but it can’t be done alone and we should all think about how we will be there for our loved ones and who we can turn to when we eventually need care.