The image of the old model of senior citizens finishing their lives in nursing homes or extended care facilities has never truly been accurate for the retirement years of most seniors. Just under 7% of seniors are in nursing homes. The remainder are either still in their own homes were living with their children. In fact, among those people 85 years old or older, only 11% of men and 23% of women are in nursing homes.
The nursing home model costs too much and institutionalizes the residents. A further complication is an inability to get enough nursing homes built to replace the monolithic gray buildings put up in the 1970’s during Johnson’s Great Society programs and the real estate market crash that wiped out much of the enormous equity seniors had to provide for their future care.
Studies on aging have shown they are more content and comfortable and mental attitude influences physical health in positive ways. Remaining independent as long as possible also brings significant cost savings. MetLife conducted a survey of the 2009 costs of various senior living arrangements and the national average rates reported were as follows:
· Nursing homes – semi-private rate was $72,270 annually
· Assisted living facilities - $37,572 annually
· Home care services - $21 average hourly rate for home health aides
· Adult day services - $67 average daily rate
Aging in place allows individuals to remain in their homes as long as possible by designing those homes to be safe and attractive to their owners.
Reasons abound for seniors to stay in their homes. According to Senior Journal, 75 million Americans will soon be making the decision on where to spend the retirement years. “Adults want to remain healthy and independent during their senior years, but traditional long-term care often diminishes seniors’ independence and quality of life,” said Marilyn Rantz, professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. Psychologically, seniors are typically happier in their own homes with improved health being tied to their sense of well-being. Confirmation arrived in studies commissioned by AARP and Plantronics. In the Plantronics study, 86 percent of the respondents feared a loss of independence while 13 percent feared moving from home to a long-term care or nursing facility.
Only 3 percent feared dying.