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Aging in Place vs Long Term Care Centers

Most people want to live in their homes as long as possible. This is commonly called “aging in place”. However, the definition of aging in place has started to change as people weigh the pros and cons of staying in their home or moving to long term care centers, or other type of senior communities.

What Does Aging in Place Mean?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), aging in place is defined as staying in your own home as you get older, “safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income or ability level.” A report from the University of Michigan found that most adults ages 50-80 (62%) felt that staying in their own home was very important. Another 26% thought that aging in place was somewhat important, and for 12% of those polled, it wasn’t important at all.

Why Do People Want to Age in Place?

There are several reasons most people want to age in place including remaining independent, staying connected to their family, friends, and community, and to save money.

Remaining Independent

Living independently, whether with or without a spouse, is the top reason cited for peoples’ desire to age in place. Familiarity is one reason continuing to live in the home you’ve had for years is appealing. You know where things are located, you know how things work. There isn’t a learning curve for your day-to-day living.

Additionally, you are surrounded by your own household items. From collectables to family photos, your home is designed around your life’s experiences and that familiarity is hard to leave behind. Moving to long term care facilities often requires downsizing and some seniors aren’t ready to sort through and reduce their belongings.

At The Cedars we work with residents and their families to feel right at home and make this transition as comfortable as possible. In independent living many residents do need to downsize, but they are able to decorate, bring their own furniture, and other belongings that feel like home.

In our assisted living campus, residents have private apartments, and can bring some of their own furniture, decorations, and other comforts of home.

For residents in memory care, personal belongings are especially important as they provide comfort. Being surrounded by familiar belongings helps residents with dementia feel more at home and at ease.

Our healthcare living residents live in group homes with 12-14 residents and featuring a common kitchen, large sitting and dining area. Residents can enjoy our campus out on the patio with lake views.

Staying Connected

The neighborhood you have lived in for years is an important part of your identity. Proximity to their social circle, including neighbors, churches, and community organizations is a strong reason people want to age in place.

Social connections and interactions are important in preventing dementia and helping reduce loneliness and depression. The National Center for Equitable Care for Elders reported that social isolation can also contribute to issues with physical health including a rise in obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Social isolation and loneliness decrease life expectancy and the effect is “roughly the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day” for health.

The idea of leaving a neighborhood with friends, and a community they are familiar with justifiably gives older adults pause when considering whether to move.

At the Cedars, we understand the importance of community. We build community in all our areas of living—independent, assisted, healthcare, and memory care. Each level of care has staff members who create wonderful opportunities for residents to socialize and create connections. Our residents develop deep friendships that make their years at The Cedars even more special.

Saving Money

An estimated 20% of Americans own their homes and do not have monthly mortgage payments to figure into budgets. Most people who have retired are on fixed incomes. They may rely on monthly income from Social Security, a pension or a 401k, but they aren’t currently working. For those people, the cost of moving to an independent or assisted living community may seem cost prohibitive.

The Realities of Aging in Place

While the ideal retirement for many is living at home, the reality is that many people haven’t considered the challenges of aging in place.

The Need for Daily Assistance

The National Institutes of Health reports that by 2050 the number of people with at least one chronic health condition will increase by 99% to 142.66 million. These chronic conditions can include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung diseases, arthritis, and dementia. Many people don’t take chronic illnesses and the effect they may have on daily living into account when planning to retire.

Additionally, as they age, most people will need some type of assistance with daily activities including bathing, dressing, grooming, and medication management. Informal family caregivers often provide this type of care; however, it may not be sustainable. In those cases, in-home care agencies may need to be hired to provide personal care assistance, which is often an unforeseen monthly expense.

Transportation to and from medical appointments, or to social activities can also become an issue as people age. If a person uses a wheelchair, they may have more difficulty finding transportation that can accommodate their needs. An inability to leave the home for social activities, appointments, and errands can increase the risk of social isolation for seniors.

Modifications to the Home

Many seniors’ homes aren’t adequately modified to support aging in place. Only one in seven older adults has considered the modifications they will need to stay in their home longer.

Home modifications that help aging in place include a variety of accessibility features. Main floor bedroom and bathroom are two of the most important features for accessibility. In the bathroom, barrier-free showers, shower benches or chairs, grab bars and taller toilet seats make the room more accessible.

Wide door frames for wheelchairs are also important and a feature not many people have currently in their homes. No stairs for entrance to the home, or wheelchair ramps also help with accessibility for people with limited mobility. In addition, doors with levers instead of traditional knobs are also more accessible for older adults.

Other features that help modify a home for accessibility include smart stove alarms, bath temperature monitors, water leak detectors, and emergency response systems.

Modifications for accessibility in the home can cost upward of $100,000, depending on the scope of the project. When factored together with regular monthly expenses like taxes, insurance, groceries, medications, utilities, transportation, and other home maintenance, aging in place may not equal a cost savings.

Benefits of Long Term Care Centers

Continuing care communities like The Cedars can meet the needs of aging residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Access to Medical Care and Assistance

In long-term care centers including assisted living facilities like The Cedars, residents can access medical care and personal care assistance daily, 24 hours a day. This includes bathing, grooming, dressing, help getting from one place to another, toileting assistance, and medication management.

Residents in assisted living have a private apartment that is built for accessibility, and our staff is available to always help them. This safety gives our residents and their families peace of mind.

Social Events

The Cedars offers daily social activities including exercise classes for people of all abilities, Bible studies, games, movie nights, crafts, and more. We collaborate with McPherson College regularly on lecture series about interesting topics for our residents. We also offer special outings to McPherson, Salina, Hutchinson, and Wichita.

Our staff is continually thinking outside the box to create fun opportunities for our residents to connect with one another and reduce social isolation. Our private lake provides opportunities for fishing, and our campus has paved walking paths for residents to enjoy.

There are numerous ways each day for residents to connect with one another, and our staff. Of course, family, and other visitors are welcome as well!

Nutritious Meals

Meals are served in our dining room, giving residents even more opportunities to socialize. Our meals are prepared by our executive chef and his culinary team to be nutritious and delicious.

Cost of Assisted Living

While there is a monthly expense for assisted living, the overall costs can be less expensive than aging in place. Factoring in much needed modifications for accessibility and safety in the home, as well as regular expenses like groceries, taxes, and transportation, assisted living or long term care centers can offer more amenities for less money.

Our staff can help you or your loved one determine what monthly expenses will be as well as which programs may be able to help offset costs. Contact our team at 620-241-0919 to schedule a tour and time to discuss options.

Making a Decision

When making a final decision about whether to age in place or move to a long term care center, take into consideration the benefits and challenges described above.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. But an honest discussion with your spouse or loved one, a review of all the necessary modifications and a thoughtful plan for what to do as they age can help you determine the best route for the future.

There are resources for choosing the best retirement home, as well as creating a plan for aging you may want to reference as you evaluate your options for long term care centers.

Schedule a Tour

If you or your loved one is interested in the assisted living residences at The Cedars, we encourage you to take a tour! We will show you the apartments, and community spaces in the assisted living facility and answer any questions you have about services provided, and costs.

Next, we will take you around our beautiful campus to see the other areas you have access to, including our Wellness Center where we offer games, exercise machines and classes, and a therapy pool.

Along the way you will see our gorgeous, green campus with landscaping, private lake, gazebo, and paved walking paths.

There is so much to see and do at The Cedars and we want to answer your questions! Call us at 620-241-0919 to schedule your tour.

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