For the majority of seniors and their caregivers, there are three options when it comes to late-life living. Buying a new home, moving into an assisted living facility, and making adjustments to their current space are all equally viable, but the practicality of each one depends on the individual senior. There is not a cookie-cutter solution that works for everyone, and there are many things to consider before settling on living arrangements.
For overall healthy seniors, moving into a more accessible property can prolong independence. A home with all ages and abilities in mind might include features such as a wheelchair ramp and task lighting in tight spaces that do not inhibit mobility or vision. Often, these homes are smaller and come with the added benefit of much less home maintenance than a large estate.
One common downside of downsizing, however, is trying to figure out what to do with a lifetime worth of belongings. This can be a difficult task, and there will be items that are just too hard to let go of. One solution is to rent a storage unit that is large enough to accommodate excess furniture and other personal possessions. Storage units in Boston often come at a premium, but some companies, such as Prime Storage on Traveler Street, offer discounts up to half-off a first month’s lease. Shopping around is the best way to find an affordable unit, and often, just a few months is enough time to properly sort and purge.
Some seniors mistake assisted living for nursing home care. This misconception makes them less likely to choose this option. As Five Star Senior Living points out, there are differences between the two, and these nuances deserve attention. First, an assisted living center is set up for seniors who do not require 24/7 monitoring and who do not have significant medical needs. Many assisted-living facilities resemble upscale apartments, but instead of doormen, they employ a host of custodial care providers, such as medical assists and dietitians.
There are many wonderful things about an assisted senior living setup, but the cost is often a concern. Depending on the location and available amenities, a retirement community can cost, according to figures compiled by Where You Live Matters, $4,000 per month — and this number is much higher in more expensive cities like San Francisco and NYC.
Making changes to a current residence may be a cost-effective way to allow a senior to live where they are most comfortable. Like moving into a smaller home, this requires the senior to have a reasonable level of physical and cognitive abilities that make it safe to stay alone. Some home improvements include wider doorways, adding a bed and bathroom to a lower floor, and installing handrails in strategic locations, such as the hallway, stairs, and bathrooms.
The viability of this depends largely upon the structure. Depending on the location of load-bearing walls, for example, it may not be possible to create an open layout for a wheelchair user. Home modifications are also costly, and there is no guarantee that changes made today will continue to meet the senior’s needs in the future. If an older adult shows signs of rapid physical or cognitive changes, depression, or has a family history of significant late-life medical conditions, modifying a home may only be a temporary solution. It may also inhibit their ability to purchase a more suitable property or afford assisted living.
Again, no one solution is perfect for everyone. And for some people, other options, such as living with a roommate or moving in with friends or family, may be the best choice. These three are, however, the most common, and are worth considering when it’s time to make a decision on where a senior will live as their abilities — and budget — change.
Image via Pixabay