Why the Elderly Need to Be Careful with Housing Choices
There are many housing options available for older people these days, but it's important for them to understand that the choices they make today can have major impacts on their mental and physical health in the future.
However, decisions where to live can be difficult because nobody has the ability to look into the future.
People's needs and desires change as they age, so what may seem to be a good housing choice now might not work well in the future due to unforeseen issues that can arise such as
- serious illnesses
- death of spouse or
- problems with adult children.
For these and other types of reasons, older people need to seek housing that is safe, flexible and can meet present and future needs.
Choices Must Meet Individual Needs
Each individual has different needs in old age.
- The lucky ones remain relatively healthy and active, while others become burdened with painful and disabling illnesses.
- Some have more financial stability than others.
- Others have stronger support systems than those who relationships have failed
People cannot assume that mental and physical health issues won't strike them, because the older they get, the higher the risk for having these types of problems.
What few realize is that you cannot wait until trouble strikes to make housing changes because in many cased doing so will be impossible.
For example, people with dementia cannot legally sign documents and people with major illnesses are just too sick and weak to be able to handle housing changes, even though their present living facilities are no longer appropriate for their situations.
Many parents wrongly assume that if problems occur, their adult children will take them in, but in reality
- relationships with their adult children may have changed,
- children may be dealing with problems of their own or
- children may not have room in their homes for their parents.
When these things happen, parents are left to fend for themselves. This is the exact reason why they should never plan on having relatives or friends take them in.
Instead they should do all they can to plan to live independently.
Below are some options that can help them to do so.
Will Staying In Your Home Work?
A good number of people have stated that they would prefer to simply stay in their own homes as they age.
For some, this can work well, if
- their health is good,
- they can afford the high costs involved in home ownership,
- they are able to care for their homes,
- they can make their homes handicapped ready and
- their support system is strong.
However, this can be a very bad choice for others who
- are in poor physical or mental health,
- have limited finances,
- don’t have many friends or relatives available to help them and
- don't have the money to make safety alterations to their homes.
The location of the home for this last group is also important. If they live a good distance from doctors and health care facilities, staying put can be a major problem.
What About Other Housing Options
Those who don't want to grow old in their current homes or think they may be unable to do so should take a careful look at other options that may work for them such as:
- having a room within a house where other seniors also live,
- independent housing where people with few physical or mental needs can rent or buy an apartment and live as they please,
- living in a situation where one gets help with daily living needs such as bathing and meal preparation,
- living in a facility that houses dementia patients,
- living in a nursing home that supplies physical oversight as well as daily living care or
Some of these choices work well for people, but can cause older people to lose some of their privacy as well as a certain amount of control over their lives.
This is especially true if they are ill enough to require consistent medical supervision.
Regardless of choice, older people need to research each option so that they can provide themselves with the best possible outcomes.
Pros and Cons of Other Housing Options
While living in your own home may seem to be the easiest choice, it does have its caveats. In many cases, living this way can create a sense of isolation which can lead to depression. Transportation can become a problem, especially if the house is not located close to shopping and medical facilities or a person is no longer able to drive his car. On the other hand living this way guarantees privacy and allows free choice in all matters as long as the individual is physically and mentally healthy.
Group living generally eliminates feelings of isolation but can also make the elderly victims of bullying and coercion. In some cases costs can rise significantly, thus forcing people to move to different locations.
Assisted living resolves issues of isolation, and provides assistance with daily living as well as transportation. However, it can be quite costly. Medicare does not pay anything towards assisted living, so cost should be carefully explored before choosing this option.
Skilled Nursing facilities are horribly expensive and are not known for giving people the best care. There are exceptions, however, which is why people need to do their homework before choosing a nursing home. In certain circumstances Medicare will cover beginning costs, but generally expenses are extremely high and must be borne by the patient and his family unless he qualifies for Medicaid.
As noted earlier, living with adult children is an option that may not be available. However, if it is, it likely will not be the most comfortable one because the parent who moves in may always feel like a "guest" rather than a family member. It will be up the adult children to set the tone, but many resent having people interrupt their lifestyles and show it. To make this option work, relationships must be exceedingly good and adult children must really want to help their elderly parents.
There is No Perfect Option
While there are many unexpected things that can happen to people on the road to old age, those who are lucky and who live intelligently will be the ones most likely to have the best old age housing options.
However, it is extremely important for people to realize that where and how they will be able to live in their older years may not always be their first choice. Even if it is, it will not be perfect.
While nobody has a crystal ball, there are indicators that can point to potential problems for the future such as poor health, financial problems or limited social support.
For this reason, people need to be realistic and take steps to create living quarters for themselves that will keep allow them to remain secure and financially stable for as long as possible.
I have met countless older individuals over the years who spend their days in isolation, have no one to turn to for help and whose bad financial decisions have left them without many of the necessities of daily living.
This is what happens when they assume that nothing will change and that they will always remain healthy.
You should assume nothing, and you should always be cautious when it comes to housing issues. Growing old is a treacherous trip that is full of stumbling blocks, but the more money, health and good relationships you have when you reach your destination, the happier you will be once you arrive!
Have you given any thought to where you might wind up living when you're old?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle