“When I get old, you’ll just put me in a home somewhere.”
When you’re young, this statement sometimes gets thrown around as the punchline of a joke. As you age, it’s not quite as funny. And, once you reach your retirement years and beyond, the laughter is replaced by fear.
One of seniors’ biggest fears is dying alone in a strange place without family or friends nearby. According to an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) study, more than 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their home as long as possible, even if they need help with day-to-day activities. After all, home is comfortable and familiar and they are surrounded by memories and circumstances that make them feel safe and loved.
Some older adults fear moving into a nursing home or assisted living community more than they fear death, mainly because of the institutional feeling and loss of freedom. However, depending on the level of care that is needed, this may be the only option.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both home care (living at home or with a family member) and living in a nursing home or other care facility. One of the biggest considerations is the health situation of your loved one. If they require 24/7 medical care from a doctor or nurse, living at home is more challenging.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in nursing homes?
Your loved one might actually prefer to live in a nursing home or a community where they can socialize with others, have their laundry and cooking done for them, and not have to be alone for long periods of time (unless they want to).
Some of the advantages of your loved one living in a care facility include:
Nursing homes are typically staffed with a variety of medical professionals, including nurses and doctors. This brings you and your loved ones peace knowing that their medical needs are being addressed.
With your loved one being cared for by professionals 24/7, you as the caregiver, may feel less stressed knowing that when you’re tending to your own family or career, your loved one is safe.
Most nursing homes are secure for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia who might be prone to wandering.
Some of the potential disadvantages to consider about moving your loved one to a care facility:
Nursing homes remove an individual’s independence earlier and may make your loved one “feel” old
Moving your loved one away from their familiar surroundings, friends and family could result in them feeling abandoned by you and your family.
Nursing homes require a transition period before feeling like “home,” which can be difficult for some seniors.
Nursing home care is expensive, especially for high-quality institutions.
According to AARP’s study, approximately 90 percent of seniors intend to continue living in their current homes for the next five to 10 years. Of these individuals, 85 percent are confident in their abilities to do so without making significant modifications to their homes.
Your loved one might strongly desire to remain at home (or a family members’) for the last years of their lives. This desire often stems from wanting or needing to be near friends and family, which is good for their mental health. Sometimes, they just can’t afford to move to a care facility.
What are the advantages of home care?
There are some important advantages to making sure your loved one can experience home care, instead of “out of their home” care, such as nursing homes or assisted living communities.
Seniors having the opportunity to “age in place” among their friends and surroundings typically feel more secure and happy, which boosts their physical health.
Freedom is important to your loved one. Allowing them to live at home gives them a sense of freedom to do as much or little as they want – on their own schedule. They aren’t “scheduled” to eat or participate in certain activities at certain times. They can make their own decisions.
If your loved one does not require extensive medical care around the clock, they can live at home and still receive help with daily activities. You can hire a professional home care agency to provide in-home care for your loved one. These professionals can assist with cooking, cleaning, shopping and other basic activities. Having this resource brings you – the caregiver – peace of mind that your loved one to safe, secure and being cared for while you’re at work or tending to your own family. Home care options are often less expensive than a permanent facility stay that, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, averages approximately $6,500 per month.
The best thing you can do for your loved one is to engage them in conversation about where they’d like to live as they age. It’s important to involve them in the decision making before health concerns arise, so that a plan is in place. Do your research on home care, nursing care and other senior care options so you are educated and equipped to make the best decision for your older loved one.