The Argument for Aging in Place

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you want to continue living in a familiar environment throughout your maturing years.

In life, sooner or later, the house that was built for an “average” family does not work and one of the greatest concerns people have as they grow older is that they may have to leave their home. In fact an AARP survey found the number of Americans desiring to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives, to “Age in Place”, to be greater than 80%.

Aging in Place means living in your homes safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.

Whether for physical, geographic, or monetary reasons, much of the aging population will someday have to face this issue. This possibly means leaving behind a comfortable living space, family, a familiar community and many memories. In addition, a certain amount of control is lost when a person gives up their home. This “control” provides the bases to our feelings of dignity, quality of life and independence. One’s Home, their Haven, is a strong element in that sense of security.

As health care costs rise and stays at hospitals or even transitional care get shorter, the aging population must decide how they want to spend their hard earned dollars. According to the MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Costs (October 2008), the national average for a private room in a nursing home is $69,715 annually and for a private room in an assisted living center it is over $36,000. Additionally, given for example the recent budget agreement/deal reached in California this month we can expect less and less social services to be funded leaving many to have to do some serious out of the box thinking of how to stretch their assets further and if one can extend the usability and livability of their current home for a few more years then that might be the smart thing to do.

California has some of the highest nursing home and assisted living costs in the nation so careful consideration must be taken when deciding to give up your home, lose up to 20% of its value in the current real estate market, and pay for these institutions or to instead to choose to “age in place”.

Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all solutions here and seeking the advice of qualified professionals to help you navigate your choices is key. Specialists in A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design, elderly and in home care and specialty care givers focus on improving quality of life by enabling, enhancing, ensuring and maintaining independence. They will be able to help you develop affordable, effective solutions to create a safe, accessible living environment that would allow anyone, healthy, impaired or disabled to remain in their home or business.

Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Most people find it hard to look that far ahead because they don’t like to think about the inevitability of aging. People often misjudge their chances of developing a debilitating health condition. The fact of the matter is that growing older is a part of life and not enough people adequately plan ahead for the eventual problems of the elderly and disabled. Too much optimism or denial can lead to poor planning.

Photo credit: Bill Barber

About the Author: Raad Ghantous is the principal of Raad Ghantous & Associates and is an expert in luxury hospitality, wellness centers, and medical & day spa developments.  He is also the owner of Your Home For A Lifetime, an A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design/Aging in place, full service design/build firm with over 15 years of experience  specializing in developing integrating elegant and seamless designs/modifications to new or existing structures.

  • Jeanne O’Grady

    Thanks for this article. As I said in my other posting on your site. It is very timely. I think that having all options available and reasonable will help us in dealing with these sensitive family issues.

  • Matt Johnson

    Raad, Insightful article. What is the most sensible first step in creating a safe A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design home for seniors? Thanks…Matt

  • Laura Bramly

    Great article.

    Regarding the potential for taking on aging in place as a health care strategy for a state, that’s exactly what I think it needs to be. Perhaps you know which country, but there is SOME country in Northern Europe that, as a national healthcare strategy, assists people in aging in their homes no matter what their health issues (even dementia) by bringing all the services to them. I read it in an article that I didn’t keep and am now desperately trying to figure out which country it is… I think that living in a community such as assisted living or a nursing home has the potential for healthier socialization for people, but that’s about where it ends.

    Second, I am an advocate for planning for one’s future, and recommend that people create an “aging will” similar to a living will, for what they want to have happen as they age. The aging will, created in saner times and in partnership with family members, is what they and the family refer back to if a crisis happens and decisions such as where to live need to be made.


  • drkathyjohnson (Dr. Kathy Johnson)

    There are many reasons that 9 out of 10 American seniors want to live at home.

  • HCAFranchise (Jack Johnson)

    RT @ drkathyjohnson.There are many reasons that 9 out of 10 American seniors want to live at home.

  • HCAMichigan (Rob Louis-Ferdinand)

    There are many reasons that 9 out of 10 American seniors want to live at home.

  • Raad Ghantous

    Thanks Laura.. I agree with you completely about the importance of a “Aging Will”.

  • Raad Ghantous

    Matt thanks for your kind words.

    The first step differs if one is talking about A.D.A verses Universal Design in that A.D.A sets out tomodify the built environment to make it accessible for people with disabilities while Universal Design is more inclusive and sets out to make all spaces inherently, and even possibly intuativly, accessible for all users regardless of age, mobility, visual, auditory or mental ability etc.

    True your/our first concern must be compliance with ADA guidelines and laws. But ADA guidelines are really if you will the minimums of, or as you put it the “first step” towards universal design which is a more holistic/wellness way of thinking about not only the built environment but pretty much anything we use or interact with.

    The ideal is to design for different situations, built places, products and even services that are better able to serve a wide range of people…and hopefully ALL people! The core assumption being that a design that is easier for someone with a disability will be also easier for everybody.

    Here is a useful link for ADA guidelines for buildings & facilities you might find handy :

    Finally, try to think of universal design as not only the right thing to do, but how it also maybe the trend of what consumers will expect as the number of Boomers grows making it not from a business prospective also the smart thing to do.

  • Raad Ghantous

    Thanks Jeanne…it is indeed a subject that we should all embrace more in the days to come regardless what industry we might be in.

  • Matt Johnson

    Thanks for the reply, Raad. That is incredibly helpful info!

  • Deborah Calvert

    After caring for my mother Evelyn Calvert, 6 yrs at home after a large stroke I placed her in a Sun Healthcare nursing home -Sunbridge in Newport Beach, Calif. She died due to Sun’s blatant disregard for human life.When families complained SUN was breaking Calif.’s minimum nursing staffing laws and violating SUN’s Calif state injunction by understaffing with broken equipment, the corporate powers that be, flew in regional employees to intimidate us by posting visiting hours signs giving us 1 hour after a normal work week to visit your loved ones each week day. Regional employee Julie Campbell was sent by their CEO to aplogize personally for SUN when their broken blood pressure monitor caused my mother to have a stroke when they neglected to give her meds. I have written documents from a board member acknowledging equipment was inoperable for months yet they were still not ready to respond to the critical situation. Due to the fact SUN was under a state injunction from 2001 for having the same broken equipment in a Burlingame, Calif facility that killed patients, this ACT or lack of action, was willful misconduct, reason for termination for good cause by it’s board of director’s (and making me eligible for treble damages -I was a huge liability to SUN). For that reason the powers that be prevented that triple compensation. After major surgery my attorney rushed me into mediation while still recovering, lied to me about the law, coerced, intimidated and threatened me into signing an agreement for damages based solely on SUN’s fraud. He dropped wrongful death while I was distracted and ill. When I regained my strength, I sued for malpractice, he died 2 weeks later, sadly. I won that case in 2008. I refused to sign a confidentialty agreement after mediaiton -after being told that SUN’s CEO was on the phone from his Irvine office with attorneys in the other room and that he would harm me if I forced this case to trial. SUN cheated the taxpayers of the State of Calif out of millions of dollars in fines and according to Claude Vanderwold deputy attorney general this facility was NOT considered in the fine of $2.5 Million in Sept 2005 against Sun for violating the injunction to date. The Dept of Justice turned a blind eye. The Dept of Health didn’t fine the usual $100,000 for her or any other’s death.Yet SUN’s own medical director, Dr Scott Stoney says SUN was responsible for her death and he quit due to SUN’s lack of response.Political corruption? Corporate corruption?This is not rocket science, Buzz would say.Deborah Calvert, Newport Beach, Calif. former asst. to Buzz Aldrin