As aging adults move into their golden years, having a comfortable and safe home where they can be active, social, healthy, and enjoy life becomes more and more important. And a great deal of these factors depend on where a senior lives. When choosing whether to move into a senior living community or age in place, many choose the latter.
It should not surprise you that 75 percent of older adults plan to live in their current homes for the rest of their lives, according to the 2015 United States of Aging Survey, a joint project of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, and UnitedHealthCare. But is that the smartest move for everyone?
In fact, tens of thousands of seniors make another choice. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, slightly more than 5 percent of the 65+ population occupy nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and independent senior living.
Everyday I hear from residents who say, "I wish I would have moved into my community years ago!" What they did not realize during the early years of retirement is what they would save by moving into a senior living community.
Here are some simple considerations to make when determining where to spend your retirement years. After all, they are supposed to be the most relaxing and fun years of your life, right?
1. Save on home expenses.
Gone are the years of having a mortgage-free retirement. More than 70 percent of homeowners ages 50 to 64 were still paying their mortgages in 2010, according to U.S. News & World Report. That means less of the money you saved over the years is going toward golf and more of it is spent paying off your home. On top of that, you can add in the day-to-day expenses of owning a home.
Property taxes, utilities, and homeowners insurance can add up to more than $6,000 per year for homeowners, which does not include the laundry list of renovations your home may require as you age, including reducing stairs, widening doorways, and eliminating fall hazards.
When seniors move into senior living communities, these expenses are virtually wiped away. Yes, you will pay for living arrangements, but every other maintenance expense, like lawn care, home maintenance, adding safety-rails to bathrooms, and more is taken care of by the retirement community.
2. Save your nutritional wellbeing.
As we age, our nutrition can suffer. Eating well is important for any age group, but health issues can sometimes make it difficult for seniors to maintain a balanced diet. Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15 to 50 percent of the aging population. This is especially true after a senior's spouse has passed away.
When seniors do not maintain adequate nutrition, it can affect their overall health and have long lasting effects. Retirement communities offer nutritional meals based on a senior's lifestyle. Each meal is carefully planned to meet the unique nutritional needs of the senior population, helping ensure that residents live longer and healthier lives.
I often receive notes from seniors' loved ones about how happy they are to see mom or dad eating well and enjoying their meals!
3. Save on housekeeping.
Most seniors do not plan on spending their retirement years doing extra work. You have spent years vacuuming, dusting, and doing laundry. Isn't it about time you put the housework into someone else's hands? While it may not seem like it now, daily chores can grow to be hard work. In fact, seniors who participated in heavy housework were more at risk for fall related injuries.
A retirement community can offer the all-inclusive independent lifestyle you are looking for in retirement. Weekly housekeeping and linen services are offered so you can spend more time socializing, enjoying hobbies, traveling, and more.
4. Save your social life.
As seniors age, their ability to engage with others in their community may begin to fade. Although most aging adults desire active social lives, many may find themselves with limited mobility and other medical issues, preventing them from taking part in the hobbies and events they previously enjoyed.
Study after study has confirmed that the mood and the outlook on life of older adults have a direct relationship to their physical health. A study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science found a positive attitude could reduce stress, diminish pain, and help to prevent illness in mature adults. A different study, released in Psychology: Health and Well-Being, concluded happier than average people tend to live longer.
Living in a retirement community provides endless opportunities to develop close social connections and friendships. This becomes increasingly important as we get older and face a variety of life events that could trigger loneliness and isolation. At senior living communities you can make friends, share a meal, and enjoy special occasions together.
For more information about retirement living options, including the hidden costs of aging in place, download our free e-book, "7 unexpected financial benefits of living in a senior living community." You can also compare the cost of living at home to the potential savings of an independent senior living community.