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  • Writer's pictureSarah Albiston

Is Aging-in-Place Good for You?

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Aging-in-Place or a Retirement Community – What's the Better Option?

We Americans love our freedoms. One of the most cherished freedoms we have cultivated over the past century is the freedom to choose how and where we will live in our retirement years.

Since 1900, the number of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in the US has increased from a handful to more than 2,000 today - with more to come! However, many people still have a limited understanding of the basic attributes and benefits of CCRCs.

As a result, a lack of understanding might make it easier to just stay where you are – what is commonly called “aging-in-place.” Although aging-in-place may make good sense for some seniors, it also has its risks. It is important to understand what a CCRC offers by comparison. Being well-informed will make the work of retirement planning a lot simpler – and more fun – for you and your loved ones.

Risks of Aging-In-Place

Aging in one's own home provides seniors with many benefits, particularly the comfort of the familiar. But, as needs change, there are some clear disadvantages. Here are some of the most common risks that seniors and their loved ones need to be aware of in order to ensure safe and healthy living.

Isolation, Loneliness, and Malnutrition

Many seniors lose the ability to drive as they age, requiring them to rely on family, friends, or paid transportation providers. Not wanting to be a burden to others creates a greater likelihood of isolation and fewer opportunities for socializing.

At the same time, friends may have moved, passed on, or are unable to visit. With reduced opportunities to see friends, eat out, or simply go grocery shopping, seniors aging at home may not eat well or regularly. The risk of malnutrition is serious if meals are skipped out of convenience or an inability to cook. Malnutrition can easily lead to other health issues, such as a weakened immune system, muscle atrophy, and memory loss.

Slips and Falls

Falls are one of the major causes of injuries among seniors. Slips and falls occur because of poor bone health, low metabolism, and decreased brain health. The greatest danger when a fall occurs is the inability of a senior to get immediate help, or even reach a phone if they live alone.

The Burden of Homeownership

Yard work, shoveling snow, even fixing a leaky faucet can frustrate most people. But for seniors, taking care of a home can become next to impossible. In addition to paying utility bills, the physical challenges of housekeeping and frequent maintenance projects becomes overwhelming. Bringing in outside help can provide relief, but the costs can be daunting, particularly if maintenance projects have been delayed or overlooked for several years.

Lack of Skilled Care

Being a family caregiver is often an involuntary role that adult children take on out of necessity. Besides not having the proper skills and training, it's easy to lose objectivity when caring for one's relative. Although hiring professional caregivers to come into the home on a regular basis can alleviate much of this burden, the costs can add up quickly.

According to a recent report by Paying For Senior Care, the average cost in the Richmond, VA area for a single Home Health Aide is $3,713 per month, or $44,556 per year. It's easy to see that if both spouses require health care at home, the costs can quickly become staggering.

CCRCs - Terms to Understand:

Continuum of Care: CCRCs offer a continuum of care, or several levels of care on the same campus. Most CCRCs promise that you will never have to move out or leave the campus to receive any health care, other than critical or emergency hospital care. Residents are assured that all current and future healthcare needs are met in one community.

It's important to understand that most CCRCs require that you move in at the Independent Living level. Although not all seniors will move through the entire continuum during their time at a CCRC, direct admissions to higher levels of care in CCRCs is not common.

Independent Living means just that. You live with your spouse, or alone, in your choice of an on-campus home, cottage, or apartment. Although you may not require assistance with regular activities, you have the assurance of knowing help is there, when and if it's needed. Independent residents reap the benefits of the unlimited social, cultural, physical and spiritual amenities on the campus of a CCRC.

Assisted Living provides assistance for what are called “Activities of Daily Living”. ADLs include bathing, dressing, eating, and more. Staff are trained to help determine the amount of assisted living care a resident may need. Assisted Living in CCRCs is warm, supportive, and offers seniors a variety of residential and recreational options.

Memory Care provides a secure, physically safe, and emotionally and socially supportive environment to residents with Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. Memory Care offers very low resident-to-caregiver ratios. The mental, physical, and social well-being of each resident is of paramount consideration in Memory Care.

Skilled Nursing in a CCRC provides both short and long-term rehabilitation and medical care. Staff are trained medical professionals including licensed nurses, doctors, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Whenever possible, skilled nursing caregivers strive to help their residents return to their home in Independent or Assisted Living. In some CCRCs, rehabilitation services may be offered in a separate setting from skilled nursing.

In-Home Care is a relatively newer service provided by some CCRCs where they offer off-campus, in-your-own-home assisted care. In-Home-Care can include assistance with Activities of Daily Living, as well as medication reminders, cooking and/or meal delivery, light housekeeping, and transportation services for shopping and errands.

CCRCs Are Redefining Wellness for a New Generation of Seniors

CCRCs are dedicated to providing two overarching benefits.

Security: A continuum-of-care on one campus provides the security that your health care needs will be met, no matter what. CCRCs also provide physical security with well-managed and safe community settings. High quality health care is available when needed, providing the mental and emotional security of not worrying if a health event arises. CCRCs also have strict guidelines to assure the stability and security of the community itself, so that residents do not have to worry about financial problems within the organization.

Choice is what sets CCRCs apart from other retirement communities – making them often incomparable among retirement offerings. From selecting your residence, to discovering social, spiritual, physical, and cultural venues, the choices are practically endless. CCRCs provide much more than quality health care. They dedicate themselves to the total well-being and fulfillment of their residents. With a guiding spirit of continual innovation, CCRCs stay on the cutting edge of senior living, adapting and changing along with the needs and desires of seniors.

Good Words on Senior Living is my new blog column. Topic by topic, I'll do my part to inform, demystify, and clarify this industry for you. If you have any specific topics you would like me to cover here, email me at and I will do my best to help.

#GoodWords #senior housing # retirement industry #senior living #copywriting #downsizing #moving

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