April 3, 2019

Many older adults say they want to remain at home as they grow older, a decision called “aging in place.” However, the choice to age in place isn’t always as simple as it may seem. While staying at home has some obvious advantages, there are also several potential downsides to aging in place that might prevent older adults from being as healthy and safe as they could be.

So, how do you know if aging in place is right for you or your older loved one? Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of aging in place.

Pros of Aging in Place:

Familiarity

One reason older adults want to age in place is so that they don’t have to leave the comfort of their familiar surroundings. It’s only natural to feel attached to a home filled with happy memories. After living in the same place for many years, it can be hard to say goodbye.

Consistency

Nobody likes change, and it can be particularly difficult for older adults to adjust to the changes that come with moving from their longtime home. By staying at home, older adults are able to maintain their same routines and habits, without the need to adapt to a new environment.

Convenience

Downsizing a home filled with a lifetime of belongings is no small task. The process can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. For this reason, some older adults try to put off the decision to downsize as long as possible.

Cons of Aging in Place:

Home maintenance and upkeep

Over time, it can be challenging for older adults to maintain a larger home on their own. Chores that involve a lot of physical work such as yard work, laundry, vacuuming, or grocery shopping and running errands can become stressful and burdensome. Failing to perform home maintenance tasks may also lead to expensive repairs down the road.

Loneliness and isolation

Even with friendly neighbors and family nearby, older adults who live alone may still feel lonely and socially isolated. According to the latest National Poll on Healthy Aging, about a third of seniors experience loneliness regularly, which is connected to serious health concerns like anxiety, depression, obesity, and heart conditions. One of the biggest advantages of living in an assisted living community is that residents have access to meaningful social contact and engaging activities every day.

Health and safety risks

A typical home can be full of fall hazards and other safety concerns for older adults. Things like poor lighting, loose carpeting, stairs with unsecured railings, or slippery bathrooms can lead to dangerous falls or accidents. While certain home renovations can be made to mitigate these risks, it is often more cost-effective to relocate to an assisted living community, which is designed to accommodate the needs of older adults.

When it comes to deciding whether to age in place or move to an assisted living community, there’s a lot to think about. Ultimately, the most important factor to consider is quality of life. While it’s never easy to leave the comfort of a familiar home, many people find that moving to an assisted living community is the best option for their overall health, safety, and well-being.