"To be, or not to be (living alone as a senior)—that is the question."
Housing choices for seniors are heavy matters. Maybe not quite as heavy as the matters that Hamlet was wrestling in Shakespeare's famous soliloquy, but heavy nonetheless.
"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky" (All's Well That Ends Well).
Rather than leaving things to chance, explore housing options for seniors and do it early. We'll examine the benefits of each option so that you can be well-informed before you make your decision.
Living at Home—"That is my home of love" (Sonnet 109)
Aging in place is a rising trend; many modern seniors want to continue to live in their own homes. To age in place is to keep the lifestyle you're accustomed to in a place where you've made so many memories. You'll remain independent and stay near your friends and community.
Those who need just a bit of extra peace of mind should consider a medical alert system. Those who need a bit more domestic help should consider a home care assistant.
Things to consider about staying at home:
- How much help do you need?
- Would you prefer to stay near your friends and community?
- Do you need to adapt your home to make it safer as you age? (If so, consider contacting a CAPS specialist)
- Are there fun activities in your neighborhood to help you stay active and healthy?
- Are you prepared to pay for more help to take care of both you and your home?
Moving in with family can be a good step for many. It allows a bit of leeway between extra help at home and living in a senior community. Living with family means more time with the ones you love. Also, it means the structure of a support system to take care for you. Household tasks will no longer be your sole responsibility, which can be a big relief.
Before moving in, discuss everyone's expectations so that the transition to living together is as smooth as possible. With the right preparations, living with family can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved.
Things to consider about living with family:
- Are you prepared to move out of your home?
- Do you want that much more time with your loved ones?
- What is your budget?
- Will you need a home aide?
- Will a family member take care of household responsibilities?
- How will this affect your family?
- Is your family able to help you with everyday tasks when you need it?
- Has your family modified their home to adapt to your changing needs?
Moving to Assisted Living—"For you and I are past our dancing days" (Romeo and Juliet)
You might need more care than family or a home health aide can provide, or perhaps you want to be in a community of other seniors with constant access to care. Moving to a senior care community means the end of yard work and boredom, and the opportunity to meet some new friends. Everything you need is within walking distance or shuttle distance and you'll gain easy access to health care.
Make sure to check out the senior home in person to make sure it's the right place for you. Remember that "all that glistens is not gold" (The Merchant of Venice).
Things to consider about moving to assisted living or a senior care facility:
- Are you able to afford this option?
- Are you ready to downsize and leave your home and community?
- Do you need constant access to care?
- Do you want to live in a community of people your age?
- Will you enjoy a wide variety of programs to stay healthy and entertained?
To make the best senior housing choice, examine what care you need now and what care you expect to need in the future. In the end it will be your decision. "Men at some time are masters of their fate" (Julius Caesar).
Budget is an important consideration, but shouldn't be the only one. You can always increase or decrease care when and if you need it. And remember Polonius's advice to Laertes: "This above all: to thine own self be true" (Hamlet).
Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne's favorite Shakespeare play is Hamlet and at one point he could recite every one of the big five soliloquies from memory. Those days are long past.