Friday, February 20, 2015

Why aging in place is not for everyone

Laurelhurst Park senior residence in Oregon is for those who need both independence and assistance
You may be one of those baby boomers who declares you don't want to live in assisted living or in some senior community, and you do not want your parents there either; but aging in place is not for everyone.

Experts tell us that although older people may be attached to their homes and believe it is the best place to live out their lives, the home in place may not be equipped to provide the activities and amenities for people to be able to adapt to the changes as they grow older.

There are many things to think about when we age.  We need companions.  We have to buy products and services to meet our needs.  This includes being able to get to a medical facility quickly in an emergency or having to buy groceries when the weather is bad, as is presently occurring in much of the Northeast right now.

The wealthy can pay for whatever they need.  The poor can avail themselves of social welfare programs.  The middle class, however, have to pay for private services to allow them to live independently, and these services can be expensive.

At the same time baby boomers are talking about aging in place and the need for services increasing as a consequence of aging, many lack children who can help out.  Many boomers have no children and so must rely on friends or other family members and may ask themselves, as a New York Times article points out, "Who will care for me?"  But those friends and family members may have financial or health problems or face some other barrier towards helping others in a crisis situation.

It is better to think things through in terms of what a person needs and wants and what the limitations of any environment might be in providing physical, emotional and mobility support.  One of the most important needs is social contact as research has found that social isolation can predict early death as much as smoking.

So in spite of what someone might want, the need is likely to be more important in old age, when one is less able to do everything and must ask for help or have the type of environment that lends itself to independent living.  Otherwise a senior living center or retirement village might be the better choice.

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