Senior couple on a couch looking at a laptop

Independent Living vs. Aging in Place

How older adults define senior independent living seems to be changing. A 2014 AARP survey found that 90% of adults over age 65 wanted to stay in their homes as they age. A 2018 follow-up survey, however, found only 76% of those over age 50 wanted to age in place in their homes.

Why the shift in attitude? There are many possible reasons. A survey by the nonprofit SCAN found 79% of U.S. seniors are concerned about health care or other issues affecting their ability to live independently in their own homes over the long term. As younger seniors decide how they want to spend their time, energy and money, they’re finding that aging in place isn’t always as conducive to meeting their goals as they thought. And some of that attitude change may be attributed to how senior living communities are changing to better suit the lifestyles of younger seniors.

As you consider your independent living options, take a closer look at the costs and the impact your choice could have on your overall well-being.

The Cost of Senior Living vs. the Cost of Aging in Place

Staying in your current residence may not be as cost-effective as you think.

  • Monthly Expenses. Between mortgage or rent, insurance, homeowners association fees, housekeeping, lawn or security services, groceries, dining out, entertainment, etc., monthly expenses can add up. 
  • Home Upkeep. There are also maintenance and repairs necessary to keep your home livable and comfortable. House Logic estimates annual average home maintenance costs are 1%-3% of the initial house price. So owners of a $200,000 house can expect to pay $2,000-$6,000 per year for upkeep and replacements.
  • Home Safety. Aging in place is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” 

A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that only about 1% of existing homes are conducive to safely aging in place. Will your home need grab bars, ramps, widened hallways or doorways to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs? Are there stairs that could become difficult to navigate? What other accommodations will your home need to be safe?

When you start looking at the costs of a senior living community, it’s important to assess the overall value you’ll get for your money. Use this worksheet to help you get a clearer picture of your current expenses and age-related expenses you may need to consider.

The Benefits of Senior Living for Your Well-Being

Social, intellectual, physical, emotional and vocational wellness are vitally important for older adults. When you have opportunities to address all aspects of your well-being, you can live better and be happier.

While you may be able to continue pursuing these dimensions of wellness while staying in your home, it’s important to acknowledge factors that could make it more difficult as you age. What will happen if driving becomes an obstacle? What if you or your spouse/partner develop mobility or health issues that make it harder to leave your house without assistance? And what happens if it becomes more difficult to maintain social connections?

A British study looked at the overall well-being of people who lived in a retirement community compared to those who were aging in place. Some key findings include:

  • Retirement community residents spend up to 12 fewer days on average in the hospital due to unexpected accidents as compared to those who remain in their own home.
  • Residents of retirement communities were also shown to be 75% more physically active than those who opted to age in place in their current home.
  • Retirement community residents reported 23% less anxiety than their non-community-living counterparts.
  • Eighty-seven percent of retirement community residents reported that they “never” or “hardly ever” felt lonely after making their move into the community.

A 2018 American survey found similar results.

Planning for Your Future

Independent living can offer a lifestyle and a residence that suits your needs and helps you meet your wellness goals. Once we’re open, independent living at our Colorado Springs community will offer all that, plus a plan to meet future health care needs you may have. If you have questions about how to reserve your future residence, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to answer all your questions.