Modifying your Home and Ageing in Place Vs. Traditional Nursing Home Care
The bottom line:
- As seniors make decisions about their future, they need to be aware of how much their options will cost to be able to decide which are feasible.
- Several factors influence the decision of whether to age in place or move to an assisted care facility, not least cost.
- The costs of home modifications often aren’t as high as seniors may expect.
Ageing is a stage just like any other in life where we grow and change, and so require our environments to do the same. However, unlike the boundless energy of adolescence when we’re seeking out the new and unknown, or the slightly older version of ourselves that was looking to settle down and put down roots, many seniors find themselves stumped when they come to the realisation that their home no longer fits their needs, and so something must be done. Along with comfort and practicality, a major contributing factor when deciding on the best solution for the future is cost, so how does the cost of ageing in place compare to that of traditional nursing home care?
Options for Ageing: Feasibility
As the main two options available when it comes to planning for the future, seniors often start by considering whether they will choose to stay in their home, moulding it to their needs, or move to an assisted care facility. And so an all-important conversation begins between ageing family members and their nearest and dearest, to try to reach a conclusion that meets the needs and expectations of everyone involved, starting with:
The first factor to consider is the independence of the older adult whose future is being considered. Whether the focus is wanting (or needing) more autonomy, or a fear of losing the freedom they’ve had for so many years, it’s key that it is considered right from the offset.
Thinking about the present but also into the future, particularly the next 5 or 10 years:
– How easy does the senior find it to live independently?
– Can they get their everyday jobs done successfully with little outside help?
– Can they get around easily on public transport to meet their everyday needs?
– Can they get around all or most of their home easily and safely?
If they are currently able to meet all their needs, living an active, independent life and believe that they will be able to keep doing so for years to come, ageing in place is a feasible option. However, if they find their independence waning and that meeting their needs is becoming an ever more challenging task, assisted living starts to become a more attractive option, providing daily assistance to ensure basic needs are met and that they will be safe and cared for as time goes on.
An often overlooked contributor to maintaining both mental and physical health as we age, social interactions play a key role in our quality of life. As such, when deciding on whether moving or staying is the way to go, seniors and family members alike must consider the support network in place for both options.
– Does the senior live near family who go and visit often?
– Do they have social activities, belong to clubs or have neighbours who pop in for a cup of tea every so often?
If they do, it’s worth considering that these are all things they’d be giving up if they moved. Then compare these interactions to their new home. Would they have access to even more people? To more organised activities and social interactions? Could they move closer to family or other loved ones?
One final key consideration is the emergency planning in place should anything happen, wherever the senior may be. Have they got a technology hub set up at home that means they can access emergency services at the push of a button? Or family members checking on them from a distance, just to make sure everything’s okay?
Or would round-the-clock care be the safest option, giving everyone peace of mind that should they face an emergency, a senior would have access to the help they need?
Though many decisions can be made by balancing columns in a list of pros and cons – and the considerations above should certainly play a part – sometimes decisions are simply conditioned by the financial means available, so let’s compare the costs of both options:
The Costs of Assisted Living
According to a recent article in the Irish Times, the average cost of nursing home care in Ireland is approx €1,564 per week.
While the cost of living in a facility is, indeed, a challenge for many, seniors wanting support as they age also face another challenge: accessibility to care. In fact, according to CBRE the numbers around availability are quite alarming because by 2026, the number of over 65s in the State is projected to reach 860,600, supported by as little as:
- 25,000 nursing home beds in 436 private nursing homes
- 6,000 additional nursing home beds in 115 publicly owned nursing home facilities
- Totalling 31,000 nursing home beds in Ireland, 80% of which are in private hands.
Given the strained supply for the demand of nursing home beds and the weekly cost of over €1550 is out of the reach of many, more and more Irish seniors and families are now looking at how the family home can be modified to allow them to age safely in their very own home.
The Costs of Ageing in Place
According to the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning & Local Government, most adults say they want to stay in their own home and community as they age. In most cases, the main reasons cited include proximity to family & friends, love of their current home and confidence with the support network around them. In our work and experience with Irish seniors over 70, we have found that discussions about the choice between ageing in place and moving to a private or residential care home will usually start around the topic of costs but also involve concerns about isolation and, above all, independence.
Living in your own home comes with many benefits. However, to enjoy the comfort, safety, and privacy that every person needs, in many instances, the home may need to be modified to accommodate a person’s changing mobility and physical abilities. In our experience, many people are not aware of the practical modifications, technology and support that can be made available to help make the home safer.
Economic Costs of Ageing at home versus Nursing home Care
The decision of where to live out your senior years is deeply personal, involving whether you want to downsize, have your home adapted to cater for your needs as you age or move into a facility with round-the-clock care. As such, we have built out a cost comparison that may provide you with some key information when making the right choice for yourself, your spouse, and your family.
The comparison below is based on some assumptions to arrive at an average cost, using a typical 3-bedroom semi-detached home in an urban setting as a guide. We have assumed that the person is living alone, has decreased mobility and needs some assistance for approx. 20 hours per week.
To paint the full picture, let’s call our senior Bridget. She has a grown family of 3 children, two sons living in Dublin, approx. 1 hour away, and a daughter who lives 20 miles away. Bridget has always been involved in her community, keeping active with all sorts of events, fairs and lunches, which means that she has always gone out and socialised at least a few times per week, though she’s not quite as hands-on as she once was and will now only go to one or two events per month for a couple of hours. However, the friends she made over the years haven’t forgotten her, and they come and see her from time to time to share the latest gossip. Her daughter also usually pops in on a Sunday afternoon for a cup of tea or a trip to the garden centre. Though she doesn’t see them as often because they’re busy with family commitments and work, she sees each son around once per month. They enjoy leaving the bustling city to come out to where they grew up, show their children the park they played in when they were younger, the school they went to and the river they would go for a dip in in summer. Bridget couldn’t imagine having her independence limited by having to stay in a facility all day. Though she could feel her mobility decreasing, she was certain that she didn’t want to give up the independence she did have and move away from the community she’d spent so many years so heavily involved in.
As such, when she made the decision to stay, Bridget decided that her home would have to mould to her new needs and started changing the parts that didn’t quite meet them anymore, altering her bathroom first before getting her children to walk her through her options of communicative tech. Though it’s an ongoing process, Bridget knows she’s as safe as she can be in her home, and she has all the help she needs in those couple of hours a day when her helper comes to see her.
Ageing at home versus Nursing home Care Comparison
The table below shows the cost of average nursing home care versus the costs associated with modifying the home and enabling care to be provided in the home. However, while we have demonstrated the costs in financial terms, one thing that we just can’t put a price on is the emotional cost involved in one leaving the home and community they’ve been in for a lifetime and moving into nursing home care.
|Nursing Home||Ageing at Home|
Assistance with the activities of daily living (personal care) -Medication management and administration
-Limited medical treatments.
Provided in Nursing home Setting
Assistance with the activities of daily living (personal care)
– Provided by professional home care healthcare professional
(20 hours per week 52 weeks of the year)
– Enabling a degree of interdependent bathing in a safe environment
– Enabling access to all areas of the home and making safe internal to external access
– Ongoing supportive technology that can enable care team support remotely.
|One-off Costs||n/a||€ 20,500|
|Recurring Yearly Costs||€ 78,000||€ 31,500|
If you or a loved one are considering ageing in place but aren’t sure where to start, explore our website to get an idea of the options available. From home adaptations such as stairlifts, home lifts and bathroom modifications to assistive technology and caregiving, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with all the information you need to make informed choices that contribute to your safety and wellbeing as you age safely in your very own home.