Aging in Place Versus Retirement Communities: Which One is the Right Fit for You?

Where to live is a massive industry, and many communities today are in serious planning mode in how to support the aging.  Demographics have shifted significantly with more than 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the US.  People expect to live longer healthier lives.  Knowing your options are more important than ever before.  Stay informed and learn what your community is doing today for tomorrow’s living plan.


Decades of Living

As we progress through the decades, there comes a point when we have to evaluate the type of living conditions we’d prefer for the rest of our lives. Do we want to stay in our familiar surroundings and age in place? Or, do we want to pack up and move to a retirement community that offers more amenities and social opportunities? Deciding between the two is a tough decision to make. In this article, we’ll discuss the arguments for both aging in place and retirement communities so you can make an informed decision for yourself.


Aging in Place

Aging in place refers to staying in your own home and receiving either family caregiver support, or assistance from professional caregivers.  Statistically, 88% of those surveyed throughout the US prefer staying in their own home.  The argument for staying at home is that you get to keep your independence, which can be particularly important for older adults. Staying at home also allows you to maintain your existing relationships with neighbors and friends. Studies have shown that having a strong support network can stave off loneliness and promote better health outcomes.  Of those surveyed, the most important needs factor besides transportation, access to a database of vetted home services, the ability to volunteer physically and socially, is intergenerational access.  Most were not interested in events for themselves (meaning their demographic).  Rather a community at large, gathering and interacting with all different ages.


Retirement Communities

Retirement communities cater to the unique needs of older adults. They offer residents a full range of activities meant to promote well-being and socialization. Retirement communities offer a variety of housing options to suit the specific needs and preferences of individual residents. They also come with on-site support and care services. You don’t have to worry about mundane chores such as cleaning or making meals.   However, it isn’t perfect, and you still will have all the ups and downs of aging to manage and cope.  


The Cost of Living

The cost of aging in place may vary depending on the level of support you require and your geographic location.  Professional caregivers are expensive (and often not covered under insurance), but family members may offer their services for free. This is a short-term solution, as the caregivers usual succumb to health issues because the stress is so challenging.  Also, your home needs to be altered to make it age-friendly, which will cost money. There are so many new technological devices available for those who are in need of care and their supporting family members.  On the other hand, retirement communities are expensive. Some retirement communities can cost upwards of $10,000 a month. But most of these costs include housing, meals, care services, and social activities under one roof.


Are You At Risk?

Staying at home grants you full access to your belongings, but safety is a concern. Homeowners have to worry about falls and accidents that can arise whether going it alone or with partners. Aging in place may be unsafe for those struggling with mobility or mental health issues. That said, retirement communities are designed to promote residents’ safety. Most communities offer wheelchair access, handrails, and other safety features to minimize accidents.


Final Thoughts

In the end, both aging in place and retirement communities have their merits. It’s a personal choice.  It ultimately comes down to agency, cost, lifestyle, and your overall quality of life plans. Aging in place works if you have access to professional caregivers or family members. Retirement communities are ideal if you prefer easy access to social activities, care services, and the like. Whichever you decide, remember that it’s important to make an informed decision to ensure that the next chapter of your life is healthy for YOU