One of the most popular reasons people cite for staying in the home is maintaining independence. Yet, over time and without proper planning, there is actually a risk of becoming less independent living at home. In her 2015 article in The New York Times, “At Home, Many Seniors are Imprisoned by their Independence,” Paula Span says, “In practice, however, older adults’ desire for familiar surroundings, and their fear of institutionalization and its financial burdens, have apparently led millions to fight to remain in homes they can rarely leave. Our national celebration of independence as a value may not help.”* A 2012 Forbes Magazine article titled “The Grim Impact of Loneliness and Living Alone,” cites a study that found that 43 percent of the 1,604 study participants (average age: 71) reported feeling lonely.**
In the worst of cases, age-related isolation advances into something much worse. According to the article, loneliness for those over the age of 60 appears to be related to an increased risk of functional decline and death.
Does this mean that everyone who chooses to stay in their home will be lonely? Certainly not. Some people are naturally comfortable with solitude. But as we transition through the later stages of retirement, and mobility becomes more limited, the risk of social isolation, inactivity, and loneliness increases. There’s ample opportunity for the calmness of solitude in independent living or even in assisted living, though many find comfort in the nearness of help, should an emergency occur.
The above is an excerpt from the book, “What’s the Deal with Retirement Communities?” – a complete (but concise) guide for equipping yourself to make the most informed decision about your retirement living future.