The CDC defines aging in place as: “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level” (Centers for Disease Control, 2022). I like this definition because it emphasizes that aging-in-place can and should be accessible to all of us — well resourced or not. Except the fact is, extensive and complete resources are presently available to support anyone who would prefer to age at home. It is achievable. What prevents many from doing so is the social and financial planning associated with securing these resources out there for aging-in-place.
A leading nonprofit provider of elder services, Capital Caring Health, partnered with WebMD last year to conduct a national survey. It found nearly 90% of seniors prefer to remain in their homes as opposed to moving into an assisted living facility. It is easy to understand the positives — maintaining independence is the most important benefit, keeping familiar settings and routines, reducing living costs, and the emotional element of living in the same home as they raised their children.
The COVID-19 emergency has only strengthened the desire Medicare Beneficiaries have to live at home. In fact, their desire to stay home is even stronger now. Yet, there is a significant gap between the number of adults who want to age in place and those who actually believe they will be able to do so. Many admit they may not have enough support for the challenges that come with advanced aging. In fact, individuals 80+ are more likely to live in a retirement community or assisted living facility.
Planning for Aging at Home
Most seniors have considered how their needs will change, however, far too many have taken no action to ensure that they will be able to do so. To age in place, you need to deconstruct what you identify as barriers to your future plans. Yes, the financial and medical barriers — but for many that can also be loneliness, or proximity to family and friends. These are what we call social determinants of health, and they are often as important a barrier to living our intentions for aging-in-place as any financial planning or healthcare resources. Remember that it can be a slow process to get ourselves, our family, and our finances on the same page to achieve our intended lifestyle.You will need to identify resources that address all of your needs — including interpersonal support and understanding.
The key takeaway is to reinvigorate our efforts to plan and budget for aging-in-place —as soon as possible, but critically, throughout our 60s. The more perceived obstacles, the less likely seniors will believe they can age in place.
About Dayna Schafer
Dayna is a Certified Medicare Insurance Planner®, a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), and a member of the Rise Community. Her agency, located in St. Petersburg and Homosassa, FL where she has helped thousands of individuals and Medicare beneficiaries understand their benefits. Dayna understands the many phases of insurance purchases her clients go through. She feels the complexity in the needs of everyone she works with, and the need for quality, reliable guidance. To relentlessly seek out the right fit for her client’s healthcare needs, Dayna certifies with 10 insurers.