As people age, there is a natural tendency to want to remain in their current home for as long as possible. This is due to several reasons: the comfort of familiar surroundings, the difficulty in leaving behind a place full of memories, and the tangible effort required to move to a new home.
While on the surface, aging in place may seem the easiest option for seniors in Federal Way, there are also several challenges associated with that living arrangement, from loneliness and a lack of support to houses being inaccessible for those with limited mobility.
What Are the Challenges of Aging in Place?
Your physical, social, and emotional needs evolve as you grow older. It’s important that your living arrangement be able to support your current needs as well as those you may potentially experience in the future. Here are a few challenges associated with aging in place in the Des Moines and Federal Way area:
When it comes to the specific challenges older adults often face, mobility limitations are among the most common. While many older adults enjoy staying active and independent, there is the possibility you may experience physical limitations in the future. The problem is that many housing units in the Federal Way area are simply not designed for aging in place. Narrow doors and corridors, stairs inside and outside home, and traditional bathroom layouts can complicate life for seniors with mobility disability, which is defined as difficulty climbing stairs, walking, and getting in and out of bed.
Your options for creating an elderly friendly home design include remodeling your existing home—which can be a costly endeavor—or downsizing and moving to a new home with a zero-step entrance, single floor, and wide hallways and doorways. The need to renovate a home and enhance its accessibility, however, puts the burden on older adults to identify modification needs, find a suitable contractor, and endure the long and tedious renovation process. There's also the question of whether those added features will increase the value of your home or if you could make more from selling it as is.
Another challenge with aging in place is that numerous seniors are unable to afford their current homes, or they are at least cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their monthly income on their mortgage or rent. Unfortunately, when faced with having to pay the mortgage, it’s common to cut back on other areas of your life, even groceries, transportation or healthcare. Such trade-offs limit your opportunities for a rich quality of life while also putting your mental and physical health at risk.
Even if you’ve paid off your home, there are several hidden expenses associated with aging in place. You have to pay for interior and exterior home maintenance, occasional renovations, and property taxes. Depending on your circumstances, you can do various chores—such as landscaping and housekeeping—yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
One of the issues seniors are most concerned about is feeling isolated and lonely as they age, which happens to be a more common problem when living at home. If you opt for aging in place, it’s critical you are connected to friends, family members and neighbors, as well as community services that you can easily access. This helps you cope with social isolation, which can often result in a variety of physical and mental conditions, including a weakened immune system, poor sleep quality, depression, and cognitive decline.
In a high-density area such as Federal Way, you can find community social services and senior assistance. The Federal Way Senior Center operates five days per week and offers events, activities, and fitness classes to keep you regularly active and engaged. Accessing these services, however, can still pose a problem for older adults.
4. Need for Care
Finally, many older adults in Washington who are living at home may eventually need long-term care. One solution if you want to age in place is to hire in-home care. Additionally, if you live near friends and family members, they can provide support with certain household tasks, such as cleaning, shopping, and paying bills. The challenge is that long-term care from a professional is expensive. For example, a home health aide costs about $13 to $16 per hour in the Seattle metro area. That’s not bad if you only have them coming in for a couple hours per week to execute specific tasks. However, you may not always know when you will need assistance and keeping a caregiver around your home 24/7 as a precautionary measure is expensive.
While it may be years before you need such intensive in-home care, it’s critical to factor in those costs as you analyze the advantages and challenges of aging in place in Washington.
Meeting the Needs of Seniors in Washington
Aging in place may be what you envision for your future. While there are numerous benefits to living at home as an older adult, there are also several challenges. Many of these are addressed by senior living communities, such as Village Green Retirement Campus. No matter where you currently fall on the care continuum and what your future holds, Village Green offers a wide range of housing accommodations, services and amenities to ensure you receive the support you need for a comfortable and full life.