Whether you choose to stay in the home you’ve lived in for years or downsize during retirement, more than likely you’d like to remain at home as you age. This practice is called “aging in place,” and for the vast majority of Americans, it’s preferable than the idea of moving to an assisted living facility. After all, home is home.
Aging presents its own set of challenges. These could include issues with the health, social and emotional needs a retiree may need to help them maintain a well-rounded life. But, to move into an assisted living or other care facility is a huge life change. That’s why so many of us seek to avoid it at almost any cost.
So, what if we could bring the varied and useful functions of today’s assisted living facilities into the home? That would present a win-win scenario.
While it may sound like an expensive luxury, this isn’t necessarily the case. With the growth of smart technologies and on-demand services (like telemedicine, car transportation, and grocery delivery services), it could actually be a more affordable option.
Recently, a report that examined the cost of senior housing versus the cost of staying at home with supportive services was released by the MIT AgeLab.
Their results were surprising and included some interesting findings for retirees to consider.
The study found that, for older adults with fewer needs, the cost of on-demand services at home was higher than the monthly average cost of entering assisted living. But, then they looked at older individuals who require higher levels of supportive care. For this group, the cost of on-demand services from their home could potentially be half the cost of the US’s average monthly fee of assisted-living.
This way of living is relatively new. Today, numerous branded services provide on-demand and proactive assistance to older adults and their caregivers. This transition is changing our homes into what the MIT AgeLab refers to as “home-as-service.”
There was a second set of findings from the AgeLab study that explored aging persons’ views on these on-demand services. Researchers found that adults aged 85 years old and showed that many were already using services. These included home care, home maintenance, food delivery, and other such services. They had chosen this type of assistance to make life easier and to retain their independence.
So, how does this look, exactly?
Regarding the retiree’s health as they age, there are a growing number of telemedicine providers. They use a tablet to help older people stay in good health and at home. Services include specialized care, like physical therapy. Some even help those living alone to get medical attention by using an app.
For those who do not drive, these adults have access to convenient transportation through ride-sharing services. Food and meal delivery services are also on the rise. Maintenance companies provide services from vetted professionals for things to keep up the home, like lawn care, installing a door handle or even the small things, like changing light bulbs.
The freedom the connected home brings is our new reality, thanks to smart technology and on-demand services. This new tech offers a choice of services a la carte, rather than the one-size-fits-all environment of assisted living facilities. Under the new scheme, the aging retiree receives a considerable benefit. This point is true both for their sense of independence and personal control – and also for their wallets.
With all of these changes in how we age and the emergence of services to age in place, what about the senior housing industry? In short, they will have to adapt to a challenge to their traditional investment strategies. Rather than investing purely in the development of more facilities, this industry would do well to implement new strategies to enable it to bring services into the home. This reality is inevitable, even as the number of older adults in the US continues to rise.
After all, that’s what the majority of Americans want. And, this is the way that many of us are living out our Golden Years already.