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Is Remaining at Home Always the Best Option? Maybe Not

As I have written previously, in speaking with families, overwhelmingly the desire is for elderly family members to remain in their own home as they age and face declining physical and mental health.   But, is that always the best thing?  Perhaps, not for everyone.

 I was reading a recent post on the New York Times New Old Age blog ( which highlighted two cases in which elderly parents were living at home in declining health.  One was a 95 year old woman living in her own home with a team of aides and other assistance, all coordinated by her overwhelmed daughter.  The other was an elderly man suffering from Alzheimerâs Disease, living in the basement of his sonâs home.  The woman had visitors and activity in her home every day.  The man did not, spending most of the day alone watching television.

 The two cases raise some interesting questions.  Would the elderly man be better served in an assisted living facility or at least, adult day care?  He is not getting any mental stimulation through most of the day, which, if received, could slow down the progression of his disease.  There is the safety issue as well.  He remains at home in the basement for long hours unsupervised.  What if there is an emergency?   Will help arrive in time?

 The elderly woman would seem to be better cared for.  She has visitors in and out of her home throughout the day.  But, her daughter is coordinating all this care.  It sure sounds like a full time job.  And then we learn that the daughter, herself, is 74 years old.  How is this affecting her health and what happens if she needs care?  Finally, I wonder what Momâs finances are?  All this assistance can approach and exceed the cost of care in a facility.  Will she run out of money and if so, what happens then?

 As 77 million babyboomers begin turning 65 in 18 months, long term care will continue to be a major issue families will have to wrestle with.  And, I am not saying that remaining at home shouldnât be the goal for many.  However, as with most complex problems a one size solution does not fit all.  Assisted living facilities and nursing homes will always have a place in the continuum of care and may just be the right fit for some.  Food for thought and a different perspective to consider.