Aging in Place Essentials: Part 3 – How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?

Staying Put at Home Tips for CaregivingAging in Place can provide a much more affordable alternative to the high cost of independent living facilities, assisted living facilities and community care retirement centers. Our blog post this week explores how staying put in your own home will more likely save you money.

How Much Do Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities and Community Care Retirement Centers Cost?

Independent living facilities is a general term for housing arrangements for seniors who do not need assistance with daily activities. These facilities come in the form of retirement communities, retirement homes, senior housing and senior apartments. Most of these facilities provide common areas for meals and socializing. Some independent living facilities also have medical and personal care services. However, you still remain independent, having your own housing and receiving less care than you would find at an assisted living facility. Services available at independent living facilities include laundry, meals, transportation and some social activities.

Assisted living facilities are long-term facilities for elderly or disabled people who are able to get around on their own but need help with some daily activities, such as medication assistance/management, bathing, dressing and transportation. Traditional options for assisted living facilities include:

  • Three meals a day served in a common dining room at prescribed times
  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation
  • 24-hour security
  • Bathing/Dressing
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Laundry services
  • Social and recreational activities

Community care retirement centers (CCRCs) typically have three or four levels of care: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. These organizations offer you assistance as you need it. Perhaps you are healthy and do not need any support. Down the road, though, you might require a nurse. Community care retirement centers accommodate your needs as they change. Many even offer hospice care and end-of-life services. This housing allows seniors to remain at one residential location regardless of their health. CCRCs require you to pay an entrance fee. But beware, if a CCRC goes bankrupt, residents can lose part or all of their entrance fee. According to AARP, there are three types of contracts for CCRCs:

  • Life Care or Extended Contract: The most expensive option, but offers unlimited assisted living, medical treatment and skilled nursing care without additional charges.
  • Modified Contract: This option offers a number of services provided for a set length of time. Once that time has expired, other services can be purchased, but for higher monthly fees.
  • Fee-for-Service Contract: This option has a lower fee, but there are no long-term care benefits included in the contract. You will need to pay for long-term care benefits at their market rates when you need them.

The above mentioned most commonly available types of senior communities, however, might not be cost-effective. Whatever your rent is, your costs can quickly pile up, leaving you with a hefty bill:

  • Independent living facilities can cost between approximately $20,000 and $42,000 per year, depending on your locality and what services are included.1
  • In 2013, assisted living facilities had a median annual cost of $41,400.2 This was up 5% from the previous year.
  • Community care retirement centers have a national average entrance fee of approximately $250,000,3 and rent usually amounts to $3,000 to $5,000 per month.4 The cost of CCRCs also depends on your health, the kind of housing you have chosen and the number of residents in your facility.

Why Aging in Place Could Be The More Affordable Option

The cost of staying put in your current home, of course, depends on the condition of your home and your needs. Certain modifications may be necessary. In the long run, though, these purchases could save you money and keep you comfortable in your home. By not entering a senior care facility, you will hold on to thousands of dollars each year. Marty Bell, Executive Director of the National Aging in Place Council, estimates that annual cost for Aging in Place is $23,000.5 In a four-year analysis, the total costs for Aging in Place were thousands of dollars less than institutional care options.6 If you carefully invest in Aging in Place home improvements, you can come out ahead in the long run with Aging in Place, and also have the great joy of staying in your home as long as possible.

Cost Comparison table

There are many hypothetical premises, of course, behind the above calculations. For example:

  1. For simplification, it is assumed that the Aging in Place senior remains in good enough health to remain in his or her home.
  2. For simplification, it is assumed that there is no significant inflation in costs.

The above costs are the national averages for a single person. These numbers may be higher depending on your state. Costs for a couple will be 25 to 50% higher.

Financial Assistance

Certain grants and programs can also make Aging in Place more affordable:

  • Veterans are eligible for SAH, SHA and HISA grants through the VA that fund home remodeling projects.7 Your annual income and assets need to be below a certain threshold to qualify for these grants.
  • The Department of Agriculture offers Rural Repair and Rehabilitation grants to assist rural homeowners renovate for Aging in Place.8 These grants are designed for low-income homeowners. Those who qualify for these grants usually have less than 50% of the median annual income for the area.
  • Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit aimed at seniors and veterans that offers financial assistance and volunteer labor for home modification projects.9 Rebuilding Together usually focuses on assisting low-income seniors.
  • Many states offer Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waivers through Medicaid, which allow individuals to avoid nursing homes and hospitals, often by modifying their houses.10 To qualify for an HCBS, you need to be below a certain income. This number will vary depending on your state.

Many of these grants have eligibility requirements. If your assets ans annual income exceeds a certain level, then you may not be able to qualify for these grants.

Having financial security is a great benefit of Aging in Place. We hope that this blog post has clarified the often confusing question of how it compares to various senior living communities. Check back in at Staying Put at Home to see the rest of our series on Aging in Place:

Aging in Place Essentials

  1. Introduction
  2. Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
  3. How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?
  4. Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?
  5. How To Make Your Bathroom Safer

1. Guide to Senior Housing Options | Return to Text
2. Nursing Home Costs Top $80,000 A Year | Return to Text
3. Continuing-Care Retirement Communities: Weighing the Risks | Return to Text
4. About Continuing Care Retirement Communities | Return to Text
5. As Senior Population Grows, Aging in Place Gains Popularity: Communities Conducting Outreach | Return to Text
6. Aging in Place Preserves Seniors’ Independence, Reduces Care Costs, Researchers Find | Return to Text
7. SAH, SHA & HISA Grants: Home Modification Help for Elderly and Disabled Veterans | Return to Text
8. Rural Housing: Housing Repair Loans and Grants | Return to Text
9. Rebuilding Together | Return to Text
10. Home & Community Based Services | Return to Text

Aging in Place Essentials: Part 2 – Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home Safety
The key to Aging in Place is having a safe and comfortable home. In Part 2 of our Aging in Place series, we will discuss how you can make sure your home fits your needs.

Every Room

When adapting your home to Age in Place, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few steps you can take that will make any room in your home safer:

  • Remove any furniture, clutter or wires that could be a tripping hazard
  • Repair loose carpeting
  • Place secure grab bars and handrails around your home
  • Make sure each room is well lit
  • Install nightlights
  • Have an electrician check any outlets that might be overheating
  • Install and routinely check smoke detectors around your home

Bathroom Safety

Each year, more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for bathroom-related injuries.1 These falls can be especially dangerous for seniors. To prevent these injuries, we recommend a few ways to stay safe and comfortable in your bathroom:

  • Install a walk-in tub or shower
  • Put nonskid and rubber mats near your shower or tub, toilet and sink
  • Use raised toilet seats that make it easier to get up and down
  • Clean up any wet spots
  • Make sure your toiletries are easy to reach
  • Consider having a place to comfortably sit when using your toiletries
  • Turn water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid burns
  • Don’t leave appliances plugged in near water fixtures

Kitchen Safety & Comfort

While cooking can be fun, we need to remember to do it safely. Kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.2 Slippery floors and knife use can also be hazardous. We have come up with some tips to make sure your kitchen is safe:

  • Wipe up spills immediately
  • Cover shiny surfaces to reduce glare
  • Replace hard tile flooring with a safer linoleum, cork or vinyl alternative
  • Avoid floor wax or polish that will make your kitchen floor slippery
  • Always check food expiration dates
  • Properly store knives
  • Use a kettle that automatically shuts off
  • Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency
  • Make sure that there are no towels, rags or other flammable objects hanging near your stove
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that could be a fire hazard
  • While cooking, don’t leave the kitchen
  • Store items on a lower shelf for easier access

A Safe Living Room

As you Age in Place, you may be spending a lot more time in your living room. This might be a good moment to consider how you can make this area even safer and more comfortable. Think about these ideas to increase your living room’s safety:

  • Rearrange furniture so that your pathways are not blocked
  • Consider throwing away any coffee or end tables that could cause a fall
  • Choose furniture that is firm and stable
  • Make sure your chairs and couches have armrests so that it will be easier to get up

Keep Your Hallways and Stairs Safe

Moving from one room or floor of your house to another might sound mundane, but you may find hazards along the way. Consider these suggestions to stay safe in your hallways and on your stairs:

  • Consider purchasing a stair glide or stair lift
  • Have light switches at the top and bottom of your stairs
  • Choose a carpet pattern that does not hide stair edges

In The Bedroom

When falling asleep, a dangerous slip might be the furthest thing from your mind. But, a midnight run to the bathroom could quickly become a serious situation. Making your bedroom safer can be accomplished by following these steps:

  • Have a lamp or light switch near your bed
  • Have a flashlight with working batteries in your bedroom
  • Keep a phone within easy reach
  • Choose a bed that is neither too low nor too high
  • Install a bed rail to prevent any falls
  • Remove any phone or extension cords
  • Do not use candles, as they can be fire hazards
  • Make sure your blankets and bedspread are not hanging on the floor
  • Wear slippers that have extra support

As you can see, there are many ways you can make your house safer and more accommodating. While we have outlined several methods of doing this, we welcome your suggestions in the comments. Check back in at Staying Put at Home to see the rest of our series on Aging in Place:

Aging in Place Essentials

  1. Introduction
  2. Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
  3. How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?
  4. Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?
  5. How To Make Your Bathroom Safer

1. Nonfatal Bathroom Injuries Among Persons Aged ≥15 Years | Return to Text
2. Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment | Return to Text

Aging in Place Essentials: Part 1 – Introduction

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home SafetyIn the coming months, Staying Put at Home will be covering the foundations of Aging in Place. Here, in Part 1, we introduce Aging in Place and discuss why it is important and how to achieve it.

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in Place refers to the ability to live safely, comfortably and independently in your home as you grow older.

Why is Aging in Place Important?

You might be wondering, ‘Why should I age in place? What are the benefits?’ Successfully Aging in Place allows you to stay independent in a worry-free environment. In 2010, an AARP survey found that nearly three quarters of adults over 45 wanted to stay in their home for as long as possible.1 Maintaining your independence lets you lead the life that you want with the schedule that you enjoy. Connections with family and friends are easier to continue when you stay in your own home. You also won’t have to worry about the hassle of moving out. The comfort that comes with Aging in Place reduces stress, helping your health in the process. Aging in Place also makes financial sense. Assisted living costs an average of $200 per day,2 and live-in nurses can cost thousands per month. Senior care facilities can also be unsafe; between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year.3 This is twice the rate of falls among older adults living outside these facilities. In addition, illnesses transfer much more easily in senior care facilities. Staying in your home might be your safest, most comfortable and most affordable option.

How Can I Age in Place?

Aging in Place is best achieved by making sure your home is safe. This might call for modifications:

  • Grab bars and handrails that can help prevent falls
  • Stair lifts that can help you get up stairs
  • Lights that turn on automatically as you pass them
  • Lever handles that are easy to use for those with arthritis
  • Walk-in tubs and showers make it easier to bathe without assistance

Fall prevention is extremely important for seniors. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. One in three seniors aged 65 and older falls each year.4 Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently.5 Furthermore, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, and one out of every five hip fracture patients dies within a year of their injury.6 You can take these precautions to avoid a fall:

  • Exercise to sustain muscle mass and balance
  • Maintain a balanced diet with plenty of Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Maintain a routine sleep schedule
  • Get regular vision exams to keep you up to date
  • Remove clutter and rugs that could be trip hazards
  • Review medications for any side effects

Keeping yourself safe is the foundation of any Aging in Place experience. We hope that the information we’ve laid out serves as a helpful introduction to this subject. Check back in at Staying Put at Home to see the rest of our series on Aging in Place:

Aging in Place Essentials

  1. Introduction
  2. Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
  3. How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?
  4. Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?
  5. How To Make Your Bathroom Safer

1. Home and Community Preferences of the 45+ Population | Return to Text
2. 5 Benefits of Aging in Place | Return to Text
3. Falls in Nursing Homes | Return to Text
4. Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview | Return to Text
5. Costs of Falls Among Older Adults | Return to Text
6. Hip Fractures Among Older Adults | Return to Text