Friday, December 20, 2019
Frequent readers of this blog know that this semester I had my students write posts about their observations on recent events. The semester has ended and I have a final post from a student to share with you.
Jeidy Beltran writes about aging in place.
THE COST OF AGING IN PLACE
Kaiser Health News recently published the article “For Boomers Reframing Aging, Age-Proofing A Home Won’t Come Cheap,” discussing the high investments older persons are incurring when retrofitting their homes to be able to “age in place.” According to the article, “by 2050, almost one-quarter of Americans will be 65 or older,” and what living arrangements and services will be available to them is the million-dollar question. Most of the common options are moving in with relatives or moving to a care facility. The article states that baby boomers are not attracted to either of those options and it is quite understandable why – they want to preserve their autonomy and independence. Nevertheless, many are left without an option given that aging in place and preserving the highest amount of independence can be considered a luxury and available to those who are most affluent.
According to Kaiser, “in a recent survey of 1,000 people age 65 and older, 80% of respondents were concerned about their ability to age in place due to financial reasons. About 60% said that they have less than $10,000 in savings (including investments and retirement plans).” Given that in this day in age, neither communities or homes are suited for “aging in place,” accomplishing it can present quite a hurdle. Most communities are not people focused, meaning that they do not have the necessities within walking distance. Also, most homes are either not single-story or they do not have the necessary modifications to allow one to age in place (narrow doors and hallways, low toilet seats, bathtubs rather than walk in showers with grab bars…etc.). Given that everyone has a different view of what aging in place signifies, retrofitting a home and when it is done can vary. Some may start looking into their forever home from the time they purchase their first home or by the time they start planning for retirement and possible disability, while others undertake the task when presented with a disability that requires such modifications. Home modifications can also vary in degree. They can be as little and inexpensive as “adding grab bars or lever doorknobs” to highly expensive changes such as “widening doorways or lowering light switches.” The article commented on a couple in Texas who undertook the task of completely modifying their home and including all that might be necessary in case they might need it in the future, which could easily cost them $300,000 just for renovations.
My initial concern with aging in place was that people would deplete their funds in achieving their “dream” and aging in place appropriate home, but would fail to account for the future need of services. After reading the article and seeing that some people build their home with the expectation that a caregiver might live in the home makes me think that some people are thinking of the possibility that they might need services after all. The choice between wanting to preserve as much independence as possible, requiring services, and the financial burdens of each is a hefty one, but I believe that if properly planned, aging does not have to be so complicated. Have you thought about this? If so, have you analyzed your situation and weighed the pros and cons of each of the housing options?