Americans reaching their retirement years are looking for alternatives to replace the typical nursing home or assisted living experience. People want companionship and assistance without the high cost of said facilities.
For some, the nursing home is the ideal place to spend retirement. A nursing home helps one feel comfortable, safe and helps to put their families mind at ease. Nursing homes are fantastic options for those who have limited mobility and require constant care. For others, the price of a nursing home is too hefty to consider, and an alternative must be found. "According to a 2021 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth, a private room in a nursing home costs $297 per day, or $9,034 per month. Semiprivate rooms are more affordable, with a median cost of $260 per day, or $7,908 per month." source: Senior Living That’s a large price to pay for a place you might not necessarily be comfortable living in. The need for alternative options is increasing as more and more people are reaching the age of retirement. By 2050, one-fifth of the total US population will be 65 and older, and many of those people will be unable to afford a nursing home.
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Another popular option is assisted living. An assisted living community differs from a nursing home in that residents are granted much more freedom and do not require around the clock care. In an assisted living facility people live in private living spaces and are able to travel freely, though they may need assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and showering. An assisted living facility also allows for frequent socialization with other residents, offering regular outings to museums, parks, movies and more. Another key difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility is the price. Whereas a nursing home usually offers a package price that includes daily care, an assisted living community charges residents based on the amount of care they require or need, so you do not need to pay for services that you don’t require. The median cost is around $4,000 monthly with no required down payment.
Stay at Home and Age in Place
While nursing homes and assisted living communities can be great options for those who require regular care and can afford to pay for it, they are not an economically sound option for many Americans. More and more people are turning towards aging in place options. Aging in place means to live in your home as you get older and rather than moving into alternative living arrangements. Aging in place is a great and often preferable option for many as it means that you can continue to live in the home that you love, in an environment that you are comfortable in, and surrounded by your community.
There are a few important factors to consider when thinking about aging in place. The first is that your home was not necessarily designed for you to age in place. "To be able to age in place, 34% of older respondents recognize they may need to make physical changes to their house, such as modifying a bathroom or installing ramps in their homes. A quarter of those surveyed anticipate putting an addition on their house or doing some other major renovation." source: AARP Consider making modifications to your home so that you can continue to live comfortably while also making your safety a priority. This might mean installing grab bars in the bathroom, purchasing a shower chair to ensure that you will not slip, or installing features such as touchless faucets that will make washing dishes a breeze. These upgrades and modifications might be costly, but they are well worth the price of your security and your ability to maintain good health in your home.
Additionally, if you decide to age in place, be sure to reach out to people who can assist you. Even with specialized devices that will make everyday tasks easier, it’s important to have people around you who will be able to step in. There are many services that can help you with household chores, meals, personal care, or getting around town. Aging in place is a phenomenal idea and helps people feel the most comfortable, but be sure to flag down help when you need it, so that you can age in place for as long as possible.
Home Sharing Creates Connections
One of the most important factors in aging is the ability to have good relationships with the people around you. Studies have shown that as people age, companionship keeps you happy, and happiness is the key to a long and healthy life. What better place to have companionship than at home? That’s what companies like Silvernest and Home Share Now were thinking when they created their businesses. Silvernest charges a fee of $24.95/month to match older renters with older homeowners and help with background checks. Home Share Now is a nonprofit that is currently based in Vermont that pairs homeowners with housemates who can help with chores. These matchmaking services are taking off in popularity, as more and more people learn that they would rather stay in a home-like environment, but surrounded by people. "Most adults (69%) would consider sharing their home with a relative (other than their spouse) or a friend (54%) as they grow older, AARP finds." source: AARP
Shared housing means that one person in the match will be a homeowner with a space to share in their home. Someone, or several others, will move into the extra space. Conditions are created depending on the household. Some homeowners will want a roommate who would be willing to assist with household chores that they are no longer capable of doing themselves, such as taking out the garbage or cooking dinner. Others are simply in search of companionship, household chores are split equally, and the coupling can enjoy each other's company over dinner or other activities.
Home Sharing companies are well designed and with the intention of pairing homeowners and housemates that will get along well. One woman with an eight-bedroom house in Portland, Oregon decided that she wanted to live with people just like her, other single women 55-years and older. The women in the house share chores based on what they prefer doing, they all get along wonderfully and find comfort in the fact that they are surrounded by women who care about them. There is always someone a few doors down that truly wants to be there to help you.
Home sharing with a stranger comes with its challenges, of course. But there are a few ground rules one can follow whether they are in search of someone to move in, or looking for a place to move into themselves:
- Details are important. You want to share a home with someone and you want to enjoy that home. You don’t want to end up in a living situation that is worse than the one you were in previously, so don’t be afraid to put in writing the things that are important to you. Decide how costs will be divided, how chores will be split, who is responsible for what areas of the house.
- Give it a test run. Set a trial period before you officially decide to move in or let someone move in. Two weeks or so is probably enough time to determine whether you will be good housemates or not. A test run also makes it quite easy to break the arrangement, before things get messy.
- Have fun with it! At the end of the day, while this might not be a typical situation, it can certainly be a fun one. You very well might meet a lifelong friend, someone who you enjoy spending time with, and someone who makes your days brighter. Living with a friend, or even just a companion, can make huge changes to your overall health and happiness. Whether you are looking for a room or looking for someone to fill a room, consider an option that could bring a lot of joy to your life.
There are so many ways in which retirement is becoming entirely redefined. There is no one right way to retire, and something that works for one person might not work for the next. Don’t be afraid to explore your options before bowing out to the typical plan. Speak to the people around you about what you really want to get out of your later years. Voice your opinions and speak up for what is important to you. At the end of the day, this is your life, and you should have the final say in how you spend it. Aging in place and home sharing are just two options in the larger retirement scheme. Explore what is available in your area, or in an area that you have always envisioned yourself living. This is your time to make decisions that will truly bring you happiness so take advantage of this time in whatever way possible!