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Fourth Quarter of Life:
Stay or Go?
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street


In March the Sandpiper began a series on the Fourth Quarter of Life with an article about how to express specific wishes to family and friends. This article, the first of three on the topic of Senior Housing Choices, explores the pros and cons of “aging in place” as opposed to moving to independent or assisted living.
Many seniors, when faced with the prospect of changing their living situation, envision a loss of independence that doesn’t have to be the case. From “Independent Living” to “Skilled Nursing” the choices often allow for more independence, not less, when you choose the level of care that fits your lifestyle and physical and medical needs. The support and social options available in senior communities allow many to thrive, relieved of the burden of household maintenance that becomes increasingly difficult with age. That said, however, staying at home (or “aging in place”) is usually the first option evaluated, as it’s natural to want to remain in a familiar environment full of treasured memories.
On the surface you’d think that “staying put” would be the easiest solution, but it’s actually the choice with the most moving parts. While other housing options offer meals, transportation, and home maintenance (and some housekeeping and personal care), staying at home requires seniors to provide or find these essential services on their own.

HelpGuide.org offers these questions for deciding whether to stay at home:
Location: How close are you to shopping, medical appointments and is it a safe route?

Home accessibility and maintenance: Can your home be easily modified for safety? Does it have steps or a steep slope? A large yard?

Available support: Do you have family and friends nearby who are willing to help provide the support you need? Are there community services and activities?

Isolation: If it becomes difficult or impossible for you to leave home, will you become depressed?

Medical conditions: If you have a chronic medical condition that is expected to worsen over time, how will you handle the complications of your condition?

Finances: Have you made a budget with anticipated expenses? Independent or Assisted Living can be expensive – but the cost of extensive in-home care, especially live-in or 24-hour coverage, can easily meet or exceed it.

And last, assuming you don’t have family taking care of you full time, you’ll need to find responsible and honest home care service providers. This means deciding between an independent provider (friend of a friend, maybe) or an agency, understanding the costs, interviewing, doing background checks, and checking references before hiring.

Coming next month: Independent Living or Assisted Living? We hope to talk with some former Del Mar residents who have made the move.


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