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There’s No Place Like Home: Why Seniors Prefer to Age in Place



They say, “Home is where the heart is.” Don’t we all long to re-experience the warmth, comfort, and safety of our homes (no matter how humble the abode) after a long trip to a strange land?


Even if the destination was fun to explore, the people were super-friendly, and the stay was pleasant and luxurious, there’s quite nothing like home. Well, the same holds true in every stage of life. The more one ages, the more they find security in the confinement of their home.


Is there any wonder that America’s elderly prefer to age in place? Many are indeed suffering silently due to social isolation, financial struggles, mobility issues, health problems, and more. However, most do not wish to leave their home during the sunset years of their lives.


The World Health Organization (WHO) states that around one in six people will be 60 years or older by 2030. That’s nearly 1.4 billion people (most of whom will prefer to age in their homes). But why do the elderly wish this for themselves? In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind this mindset.

 

Fear of the Unknown

This fear is not necessarily exclusive to the elderly. In other words, every human being struggles with fear of the unknown at some point in their lives. It could be a major reason why the elderly are so reluctant to shift (especially changing towns or states).


A new place also brings with it new people and new challenges. Older adults may worry whether or not they can adjust well to their unfamiliar surroundings. The fear is only amplified if moving means going away from friends and family.


They may question whether the physical and emotional stress involved in the process is worth it. As a result, most seniors would resist the idea of leaving their familiar home.

 

Fear of Loss of Independence

This is another major reason why older adults do not wish to leave their familiar surroundings. Every individual wishes to exercise basic autonomy over themselves (which is their birthright). The elderly are used to living a certain way or carrying out tasks a certain way.


The thought of moving to a new place brings the fear of losing their independence in these areas. For instance – if they move to an assisted living facility, seniors fear that they may have to abide by rules that they’re not comfortable with.


Furthermore, there’s another kind of loss of independence that occurs with mobility issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that slips & falls are a leading cause of injuries/deaths in older adults (36 million reported annually). 


Seniors may fear being unable to adjust to their new surroundings (especially if they’re already facing mobility challenges). 

 

The Stress of Moving 

If anyone is familiar with moving houses (especially across cities), they know how stressful the entire experience can be. First, you must have all things packed securely and transported. Then, there’s the fear of losing something or having it damaged on the way.


Finally, even after everything has arrived safely, unpacking can add another layer of anxiety. The high degree of upheaval and uncertainty involved can wear even young people out. One can only imagine how much more stressful moving can be for the elderly.


Due to frail bodies and age-related health conditions, older adults do not wish to move out easily. The same holds true when the time comes for minimal assistance. 


Most would prefer to have a caregiver at home than move into an assisted living facility. According to Always Best Care Senior Services, the elderly can receive customized support for activities like bathing, personal grooming, meal preparation, transportation, etc.

 

Fear of Leaving Their Community 

The primary reason why home is so dear to us is because of the people (in and around it). Otherwise, it’s just an edifice (no matter how colossal) with four walls and a roof. A lot of seniors fear leaving the loving and warm community they are so accustomed to.


Let’s understand this with the help of an example – suppose an older adult spent most of their life (at least since middle age) in a vibrant city like Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge. Life here is pretty chill with widespread cultural diversity and a great art scene.


However, what makes locals love this place is its peaceful, unified, and loving community. Baton Rougeans love to gather together for shared causes to uplift one another, check on each other, and celebrate together. Some of its most popular neighborhoods include Zachary, Garden District, Old Jefferson, and Broadmoor.


A senior who has experienced this city in all its glory will not think of leaving. Even when they face issues with mobility or assistance, they may prefer a home care company in Baton Rouge over assisted living.


Emotional Ties 

Most seniors in today’s time belong to the Baby Boomer era. They do not view their homes as merely a property or asset. Most have secured one with their sweat and toil (which includes their life’s savings).


It is also a place where the four walls and everything within echo cherished memories of years together as a family. Naturally, older adults want to spend the end of their lives surrounded by bittersweet memories.


The emotional ties can be so strong that they’re unwilling to shift to a completely new environment and start over.

 

Indeed, the elderly will seldom be enthusiastic about any more new home-moving experiences in life. Sadly, surveys have found that despite wishing to age in place, many seniors have not taken steps to make it happen. This includes social support, paid in-home care, etc. Though 88% were unwilling to leave their homes, only 15% had considered the changes needed to age in place. 


The younger generations must honor their wishes wherever possible. If your parents wish to stay at home, offer them in-home assistance in case you live far away. If you wish for them to come live with you, discuss this prospect with them first. 


Let them have their freedom while they’re with you. All that matters in the end is giving them their best life after they have spent theirs giving us the best. 

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