Most older Americans do not want to leave their homes. A national survey by the AARP found 75% of people age 50 and above want to age in place – meaning remain in their house and a part of their community throughout their golden years. It makes sense. The home is comfortable and familiar, offering real privacy.
But aging in place does not come without hurdles, and often requires help from family members or caregivers. If a parent tells you they want to remain in their home, here are some of the potential complicating factors you will need to consider.
Many older adults already have trouble finding affordable, quality housing. A report from the Colorado Health Institute found more than one in every four older Coloradans are considered “housing cost-burdened,” which means they spend at least 30% of their income on housing. The older an individual is, the more likely this is a problem.
Aging in place is near impossible if you do not have an affordable place to do it.
An estimated one-third of older Coloradans live with a disability, yet most homes are not equipped to accommodate these conditions. In order to be suitable for long-term care, homes often need features such as:
- A front entrance without steps
- No need to use steps within the home
- Wide hallways
- Changes to decrease the risk of falls
- Accessible light switches and other appliances
Making these types of modifications is expensive, but in order to safely age in place, they should be considered.
As we age, even tasks that were once simple can require help. Have you ever had to drive a parent to pick up a prescription? Or come over to help them do house chores? Whether it comes via a family member, outside caregiver or a community program, these needs have to be addressed. When the individual has a serious, chronic health condition, the needs become greater.
Aging in place may be possible with proper planning
None of this is meant to suggest aging in place is impossible. Rather, it’s meant to lay out some of the potential challenges you might encounter. If an older parent tells you they hope to stay in their home long-term, know these are topics you will have to discuss and resolve ahead of time. This means making deliberate, strategic decisions with current assets in order to secure the future they want.