A Tough Decision: To Age In Place Or Not?

Deciding whether to age in place or not is a tough one

We’re having a conversation with our widowed client Betty and her daughter Karen (names have been changed) about whether she plans to stay in her home or start looking into independent living communities.

It’s a tough decision, and one that comes with more than its share of emotional baggage.

Our expertise, of course, is weighing in on the financial aspects of what Betty’s budget will cover, but there are also social and medical issues to consider. Several of our clients have consulted with geriatric care managers and social workers about how their care needs may evolve over time, and what choices now will best prepare them for the future.

Ninety percent of people plan to age in their homes, according to a think piece by Hartford Funds on How to Decide: Aging in Place vs. Assisted Living.

What’s the attraction? “We’re comfortable in our homes. We like our routines, privacy, and freedom that comes with home ownership. At home, we don’t have to ask if we’re allowed to have a dog or a cat. We enjoy having lots of space to spend time with friends and family. We don’t like the thought of being crammed into a small living place and having to get rid of lots of our stuff,” says the report.

All true, of course, but let’s look at the flip side.

  • Since most homes weren’t built for aging people, aging in place can increase health risks, reports Hartford.
  • Staying at home can be isolating. “Loneliness can be the most severe outcome from aging in place,” explains the report.
  • Providing for the support you need (including companions or home health aides), on top of regular household expenses, can break the budget.
  • Just managing to get around, run errands, drive to social engagements, and get to the doctor, can be a major logistics challenge.

Clearly, it’s not an easy decision. That’s why so many seniors, and their adult children, avoid having the conversation in the first place!

So let us know how we can help. Many clients use us as a referral resource, asking us to put them in touch with community experts and specialists like estate planning attorneys and care managers.

We can also help evaluate how best to stretch your financial resources, and position your assets to last as long as possible. Let us set up a retirement income plan that helps spending dollars flow from investment accounts to the account where you pay your bills, saving you time, money and protecting you from cybersecurity hacks.

We’ve also been called on to help start conversations between parents and adult children so both generations can get on the same page as far as legal, financial, and care arrangements are concerned.

The Takeaway: Take a look at the thoughtful report on How to Decide: Aging in Place vs. Assisted Living produced by the Hartford Funds. It summarizes the pros and cons of both options, and can help spark a useful conversation about care options in your family.


About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!

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