Is It Less Expensive to Age at Home?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 25, 2018

One debate seniors and their families often have is whether it is less expensive to age in place at home or to move to an assisted living community.

Some believe that once the mortgage is paid in full, aging at home is the most economical choice. This might be music to the ears of a senior who isn’t interested in leaving a home they’ve lived in for decades.

Let’s take a look at the expenses associated with aging at home.

Evaluate Current and Future Expenses

When a senior drives and is able to handle their housework, yard, and meal preparations, aging in place can be a good financial decision.

But there are still expenses associated with remaining at home even if the mortgage is paid:

  • Property taxes and homeowner’s insurance
  • Utilities, cable, and phone
  • Home security system
  • Maintenance and repairs, including snow removal and lawn care
  • Housekeeping services, if needed
  • Entertainment
  • Groceries and food-related expenses
  • Car expenses and insurance (or alternative transportation)

As the senior experiences physical changes, it might become necessary to enlist the support of a home care agency and to make modifications to their home. Both of these safety expenses can quickly add up quickly.

Home Safety Modification Expenses for Older Adults

Modifying your home for safety can come at a steep price. Depending on how old the home is, the list of necessary modifications might be a long one.

According to a MetLife survey, the average costs of home modifications for aging in place are as follows:

  • Renovating bathrooms: $3,500 to $35,000
  • Widening doorways: $800 to $1,200
  • Installing ramps and lifts: $2,500 to $20,000
  • Installing grab bars: $250 per set

Home safety and emergency alert systems are also a factor. Families typically spend the following:

  • Emergency alert install fees: $99 to $1,500
  • Monthly monitoring fees: $40 and up

Aging in Place with the Support of Home Care

Then, there are the expenses associated with in-home care and assistance. These costs vary widely depending upon the type of assistance needed and how the caregiver is employed.

Families have several options:

  • Family caregivers: This means creating a weekly schedule where different family members rotate who cares for  the senior. This can be challenging, though—especially communicating and keeping schedules straight.
  • Hire caregivers directly: This approach helps to ensure more consistent care. The drawback is the family becomes an employer responsible for hiring, firing, payroll, and more. It can also be difficult if one or more of the caregivers becomes sick, has a family emergency of their own, or turns out to be unreliable.
  • Home care agency: The option families often turn to first  is hiring an in-home care agency. If one caregiver becomes ill or needs a vacation, the agency provides someone to cover. But this peace of mind comes at a cost. In fact, the average daily cost of home care in 2017 is between $131 and $135. That expense can quickly add up.

Our final piece of advice is to make sure you are taking all of these costs into consideration when you are making a plan for your loved one’s future.

The True Value of Senior Living Communities

Senior living communities offer older adults and their families an affordable option for care. Many of the expenses associated with aging at home are included in the basic fee: rent, utilities, transportation, maintenance, and housekeeping, to name just a few.

Our team members are happy to help families learn more about the true cost of assisted living and suggestions for financing a move to assisted living. At Sunrise, we understand that everyone has unique circumstances that determine how they can best afford the cost. Contact a Sunrise community near you to schedule a private meeting!