Is it Really Less Expensive to Age in Your Home?
If you are a senior or an adult child exploring Seattle area senior care options, you may have heard that aging in place is the most economical choice. The term is typically used to describe older adults who remain in their own home with the support of home care services.
Families often believe because the senior’s mortgage is paid off, this is the least expensive option. And because many older adults have lived in their homes for several decades, they are often very reluctant to make a move.
The downside is that the mortgage is only one expense associated with aging in place. The senior will still have property taxes to pay, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, housekeeping, and lawn care. Groceries are another big expense.
Most seniors who choose to age at home will also need home care services and monitoring technology to keep them safe. And in many cases, the older adult’s home will require some types of modifications.
Aging in Place and the Cost of Home Care
Let’s start with home care services. This type of care can be arranged in several different ways. A senior and their adult child may advertise and hire a caregiver directly. The adult child will typically supervise the caregiver’s performance. This is a more time-intensive avenue for families to use, but it can help save on expenses. The drawback is that if the paid caregiver suddenly becomes ill or has an emergency, the senior may be left unattended.
Other families may find it easier to employ a home care agency for support. While they are usually more expensive, the agency will handle all of the employment details. The senior has peace of mind knowing that if their regular caregiver is sick or on vacation, the agency will likely have another caregiver who can step in.
In-home caregivers in and around the Seattle area can provide assistance with personal care, as well as household tasks. Grocery shopping and meal preparation are two popular services. In some instances, caregiving aides can provide medication reminders.
With the average cost of in-home care in the Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue area costing between $20 and $38 per hour, these expenses can add up quickly. In fact, the yearly median cost in this area was $62,920 in 2015.
Home Modifications for Seattle Seniors
Another factor to consider is the cost of modifying a senior’s home so they stay safe. It might be installing a step-free shower or grab bars in bedrooms and bathrooms. Savvy home remodeling companies have recognized the growing market for these services and many now offer them.
As with in-home care services, however, the expenses related to modifying a home can quickly add up. According to a MetLife survey, the average capital investment required to age in place may include:
- Bathroom renovations: $3,500 to $35,000
- Creating wider doorways to allow wheelchair access: $800 to $1,200
- Ramps and lifts: $2,500 to $20,000
- Grab bars: $250 per set
- In-home technology initial set up: $99 to $1,500
- Monthly monitoring fees for call alert systems: $40 and up
The bottom line is to make sure you are factoring in the true costs of aging in place when you plan for your future care needs or those of your senior loved one.