I have the pleasure of speaking regularly to prospective residents at retirement communities across the country; helping educate them about some of the key considerations of retirement living, no matter whether they ultimately decide to stay in the home (sometimes called “aging in place”) or possibly move to a retirement community. These presentations give me the opportunity to hear firsthand from those who are in the process of trying to determine the best path for their future.
The pros and cons of aging in place
There are a variety of perfectly understandable reasons why someone might choose to stay in their home for the long-term (although some of those reasons may not necessarily justify the choice from a practical perspective). One reason that I hear from time to time is that keeping the home is ultimately a gift to the children; an inheritance. This is particularly true in regions where housing pricing are highly inflated and capital gains taxes are a concern. But when you really look at the potential implications of aging in the home you have to wonder how much of a gift it really is.
The vast majority of care provided to seniors in their own home is provided by an unpaid family caregiver, and research shows that it can be much more costly than families may realize. The average amount of lost wages and benefits for a family caregiver is approximately $324,000 for women and $284,000 for men. Of course, this is the average so the impact will be even greater for some caregivers. Additionally, over 50% of family caregivers say caregiving takes time away from friends and family, and 40-70% exhibit clinically significant signs of depression, which can often lead to other health problems… and expenses.
Anyone who has ever had to serve as a caregiver for a loved one knows the physical, emotional, social and often overwhelming financial strain of serving in this role. Aging in place may be a viable alternative for some older Adults but certainly not all. It is a choice that requires planning and discussions well in advance of the time in which care may be needed.
Yet, when you consider the potential implications to a family caregiver, financial and otherwise, it is important to ask: Is aging in place really a gift to the children after all?
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