Aging at home is certainly a viable option for many seniors, but what about when it’s not the safest, healthiest or most cost-effective option for your situation? According to Genworth, after age 65, there is nearly a 7 percent chance a senior will need some form of senior care.¹ According to a study of 2,560 LGBTQ adults aged 50-95 across the U.S., by author Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, professor at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, it was found that the LGBTQ participants had greater rates of disability, depression and loneliness compared with heterosexuals of similar ages.² The idea of aging at home may not be realistic for some, thus making it all the more important to know what senior housing options are available.
It’s important for seniors and their families to consider three common concerns associated with aging at home: safety, health and costs. Knowing your senior housing options can help alleviate anxieties.
According to SAGE, in the LGBTQ community, “Self-care is frequently more difficult for LGBT elders because they are much more likely to live on their own, have fewer financial resources, and don’t necessarily trust their health care providers to treat them from a place of cultural competency.”³ Staying safe at home can be challenging and dangerous for many older adults, which means you must learn to recognize the signs that indicate it’s no longer a safe option.
• Medication mismanagement — are there mistakes with dosage and timing?
• Home hazards — is there evidence of fires or has there been falls?
• Accessibility — is it difficult to access upstairs bedrooms and showers?
Many senior housing communities, such as assisted living, are designed with your safety in mind. They provide the general and medical resources you’ll need daily, such as distributing proper medication doses, while equipping you with emergency resources for those rare but critical moments.
Staying healthy by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and remaining socially active may be a challenge for some seniors while aging at home. Although many in the LGBTQ community have created social support networks, social isolation is prevalent amongst the senior LGBTQ population which can lead to depression, mental and physical health issues and even mortality. Many LGBTQ seniors do not have children or support from blood family members to help them as they get older. Look for signs that indicate aging in place is no longer a healthy option.
• Nutrition — is there food in the fridge? Is the food old or expired? Has there been unexplained weight loss?
• Social/Mental — is there evidence of paranoia or hallucinations? Is there social isolation?
Senior housing communities such as assisted living provide three nutritional meals daily, a benefit you may not provide for yourself when aging at home. The challenges of grocery shopping, meeting special dietary needs and consistently cooking could become overly burdensome.
Beyond nutrition, many seniors benefit from the social life, companionship and wellness opportunities offered at senior living communities. Common wellness programs include resistance training, stretching exercises and even chair yoga. The sense of community, friendship, and activity boost mental and emotional health.
When you consider the total expense of living at home, including utilities, groceries, property taxes, transportation, maintenance and handyman services, your current cost of living quickly adds up. Also, if aging at home, you may need to include remodeling costs for ease of access and safety, such as installing grab bars in the bathrooms or lever-style doorknobs, widening doorways, adjusting counter heights and installing exterior ramps. Additionally, you may need to factor the cost of in-home care into the equation.
In contrast, many senior living communities involve one monthly price that covers most of your expenses including utilities, food, housekeeping, social activities and more. The convenience of simplified living, with on-site amenities and scheduled transportation services, causes a dramatic drop in stress levels for many seniors.
Theresa Robertson, Certified Senior Advisor, is a senior housing specialist with Oasis Senior Advisors. She’s an advocate for those who are transitioning to senior housing or exploring options. Oasis Senior Advisors provides a free service to seniors and their families, helping them select the housing option that best meets their needs and budget. For more information, visit SeniorLivingEssentials.com to get your free article on the top signs that increased care may be needed entitled “Your Aging Parents: Is it time to Consider Senior Housing Options?