WHAT’S YOUR RETIREMENT HOUSING STRATEGY?
Challenge your assumptions to find the best option for you.
Have you thought about where you’ll live in your retirement years?
It’s an important part of retirement planning, but many people don’t give much
thought to their options or how their choices may affect their quality of life as
they age. Researching your options early will allow you to make the best decision
for yourself and your family, and will give you time to plan for contingencies.
Predicting the future vs. planning for the future
Many people may want to live to 100 or beyond and stay as healthy as they were in their
youth. While having good personal habits like eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty
of sleep, and staying engaged in the community can help, it’s a good idea to consider and
plan for what we can’t predict — the what-ifs.
Considering your future needs and putting a plan in place can give you and your family
valuable peace of mind and empower you to live your life to the fullest. Let’s consider the two
most common options: aging in place at home or moving to a senior living community.
Aging in place in your home
If your first thought is that you’d like to age in place at home, you’re not alone. In its 2018
Home and Community Preferences survey, AARP found that 76% of Americans age 50 and
older would prefer to remain in their current residence as long as possible. However, only
46% of survey respondents believed they would be able to do so, and about one-third
acknowledged that their homes would likely need significant modifications to meet their needs
as they age. In fact, some research has indicated that as little as 1% of seniors’ residences are
suitable for aging in place.
The financial cost
Once again, reality hits home. While there are significant personal advantages to remaining
in your home — a familiar environment, emotional attachment and comfort with the surrounding
community — the home that served you well in an earlier chapter of your life may not work
as well for you in the next chapter. And when you really look at all the costs associated with
homeownership and any modifications that may need to be made to accommodate your
changing needs, you’ll soon realize that — even without a mortgage payment — aging in place
at home is hardly free. Add to that the cost of in-home personal care; assistance with chores like
housekeeping, lawn care and meal preparation; and the possibility of eventually having to find
skilled nursing care, and you may begin to wonder if staying in your home makes financial sense.
The personal cost
The costs associated with aging in place at home aren’t only financial. Seniors who live alone
can also experience social isolation and loneliness. According to the U.S. Department of
Health & Human Services’ National Institute on Aging, “Research has linked social isolation
and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood
pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive
decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.” These risks are especially applicable to those
who experience a loss of mobility or lack of transportation that inhibits their ability to get out,
socialize and engage with their community.
Considering family caregivers?
The personal costs can also be high for caregivers. Caregivers often balance a job and family
along with caregiving responsibilities, which can be physically and emotionally exhausting.
Caregivers tend to experience higher levels of stress and negative emotions like sadness,
anger and frustration. According to the American Psychological Association, while many
family caregivers report psychological satisfaction and growth in caring for a loved one, they
also report emotional distress and experience higher levels of depression and physical health
problems than their non-caregiving peers. Clearly, while the caregiver may consider it an act of
love and service, it can exact a toll.
The financial cost to caregivers is concerning as well. The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to
Working Caregivers, published by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, found that the average
aggregate of lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits for working caregivers caring
for an aging parent is more than $300,000.
Benefits of moving to a senior living community
Today’s senior living communities are designed to empower you to live as independently
as possible. The maintenance-free lifestyle rids you of the chores and hassles of home
maintenance, yardwork, housekeeping and cooking — which means you’ll have more time to
do the things you truly enjoy. You’ll also find services and amenities such as social, recreational,
and educational events; daytrips to places like museums and theaters; transportation to medical
appointments and shopping centers; fitness centers with group exercise classes; multiple dining options; and so much more. And you’ll never be alone unless you want
to be. There’s always something to do and someone to do it with.
On the financial side, a significant advantage of senior living communities is that a single
monthly payment typically covers not only your residence and all maintenance, but also utilities
and almost all the services and amenities the community offers. This can
be a big relief to those who may struggle to stay on top of the many different monthly bills that
come along with homeownership, while also creating a more predictable financial future.
Life Plan Communities (also known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs)
are further distinguished by the presence of a full continuum of health care services. Many
communities offer independent living along with higher levels of care such as assisted living,
memory care, short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care — all conveniently located on
one campus. And if you choose a Life Care contract, your monthly payment is likely to stay
essentially the same, no matter what level of care you need. This can represent a huge savings
over paying for an assisted living or skilled nursing facility on a direct-admit basis or paying for
in-home skilled nursing care. The advantages can be even greater for couples who move into
independent living. If one partner eventually needs a higher level of care, he or she will be able
to receive care while remaining on the same campus and paying essentially the same monthly
fee as they paid in independent living.
As you consider your retirement housing strategy, make sure a senior living community is part
of your research. You may be surprised to find that it can provide a vibrant and carefree
lifestyle, security, and priceless peace of mind for you and your family members — all within a
predictable financial framework.
Our team will be happy to answer any questions your may have or
provide additional information about life at John Knox Village East. Just
call us at 660-584-4416. It’s an important decision, and our goal is
always to help you make the choice that’s right for you.