Aging at Home Might be a Bad Idea
4 May 2015
Aged Care Reviews
Many members of the baby boomer generation are beginning to look for suitable living arrangements for themselves, or their elderly parents. A new study suggests that the popular notion of remaining at home for as long as possible, just might be the worst choice.
Stephen Golant, a research member at the University of Florida, has discussed this in a book that he authored, titled “Aging in the Right Place”. In this book, Golant states that staying at home into later life, also known as “aging in place”, might be a bad idea. While this might seem like the most comfortable place to grow old, he believes it is an unsuitable environment. Why? People’s own homes generally don’t have the right facilities, and there are not enough things to keep them stimulated and socially active. Golant has been studying the needs of proper housing for elderly Americans, for over 30 years.
Because people are often alone, or living with just a partner, they need to ask others to help them with their daily lives. This can create a burden on family members and friends. In addition, these people are often not up to the task of taking care of an elderly person. With these factors at play, it is easy to see how “aging in place” might actually be the worst thing that an elderly citizen can do.
It seems more comfortable to stay at home, but there are many more things that contribute to a good quality of lifestyle. Golant states that, while comfort is crucial, people need a place where they can “… feel capable of achieving our everyday needs, from self-care to buying groceries to reaching doctors …”
The issues that come along with staying at home are made worse for people who have moderate-to-low incomes. Those with more money are able to add necessary facilities to their homes, as well as paying for the services that they need. This can include things like deliveries of groceries and medication, to in-home nursing care. These are things that can make living at home, through retirement, quite comfortable. However, those without the funds to have this sort of arrangement, should consider whether they are really better off living at home. Even when government services can be utilized, there is often a long process of “red tape” to wait for, making them less effective than they should be.
People who have a moderate level of income are the ones who tend to struggle most often. While they cannot access social welfare schemes in many cases, they also don’t have enough money to pay for things that the more wealthy elderly can afford. This leads to their aging at home situations being quite lacking.
In his book, Golant makes a point that many elderly are now living very happy lives in “elder villages”. These are communities, which are often groups of buildings, where many aging people can live near each other. This creates a very close-knit social group, where people can share assistance, and still have a great feeling of being independent. The social aspects of living in one of these arrangements are also beneficial.
Nursing homes are not very different from other products and services that people buy. There are certainly some facilities that are terrible. However, there are many great nursing homes and aged care facilities. It is important to start to find the right place before it is an absolute necessity. Moving out of home sooner, rather than later, can often prevent accidents and the onset of serious illnesses, or psychological conditions.
Keeping a pro-active attitude, and planning in advance, is one of the best ways to ensure that elderly family members can be happy in their old age. Don’t wait until a crisis comes along, and forces a move into a nursing facility. This type of thing often leaves many options closed, and leads people to go to a place where they are not really happy. Aging people with disabilities and bad health, can find happy lifestyles, provided that they make good choices about where they are going to live, as soon as possible.
If you are trying to find the best living arrangement for an aged family member, consider suggesting that they move into a more suitable place before something bad happens.