Senior Living vs. Aging in Place: Which is Best for You?

What’s the best way to enjoy active senior living in retirement? It’s a question many people will ask themselves at some point, and it’s one that has a wide variety of different answers. Some may decide that aging in place — staying in the home they already know — is the right choice. Others will look forward to the day they can move into a senior living community and enjoy the lifestyle they’ve been dreaming about. There’s no wrong answer as long as whatever you choose is what you feel will be the best fit for yourself or your loved one. To help make the decision easier, it’s most important to understand the major differences between aging in place and living in a place like eliseo.


For many, the idea of senior living in a large community comes with lots of preconceived notions and fears of a lifestyle with more limitations than opportunities. While that stereotype could not be farther from the truth when it comes to today’s senior living, it understandably plays a part in some people exploring the option of growing older in their own home. 

Maybe it’s financial concerns that keep you wanting to stay at home. What many don’t realize is that the longer you stay in your own home, the more costs add up. For others, the thing holding them back from a senior living community is the belief that they’re just too young to move into a community setting, or that they will only do so once it’s medically necessary. Even if these concerns seem valid on the surface, they’re only seeing things from one dimension. Places like eliseo aren’t the dreary nursing homes of the past, but rather vibrant neighborhoods where seniors are encouraged to pursue their passions and explore new interests.


The truth is, there’s a lot more to think about when aging in place than most would expect. First and foremost, consider the costs. Depending on how long you’ve owned your home, it may be paid off. While the idea of living mortgage-free is tempting, there are other costs associated with home ownership, particularly for seniors. The money being saved on a mortgage is still going toward groceries and utilities, but with age comes costs for medications and more. Your home may need regular maintenance — or if your health needs change dramatically, an entire home renovation could be required. At that point, in-home care services will likely become necessary as well, which could cost upwards of $4,800 per month. For more intensive needs like in-home memory assistance with 24-hour care, the monthly bill could exceed $10,000.

Other real concerns if you choose to age at home are heightened feelings of isolation, increased risk of serious injury, and a greater reliance on friends and family. Maintaining a healthy social life takes work as people age. Seeing friends, taking classes, or simply participating in the community becomes more difficult, especially if driving yourself around is no longer possible. A new dependence on public transportation, senior services, or friends and family members to take you places are all unexpected, intangible costs of aging in place.


Isolation and untreated injuries pose serious mental and physical risks to your health as you age. In a senior living community setting, those risks are often lessened tremendously. In fact, recent research suggests that, overall, active senior living residents are happier and healthier with a greater sense of wellbeing than those who remain in their current home. The researchers saw that seniors who had already moved into a senior living or Life Plan Community were more active, less lonely, and in better health.

Simply put, the benefits to your mental health cannot be denied. A life surrounded by peers you enjoy being around is great at any age. For seniors, though, it can improve both their quality and length of life. Planned, safe social gatherings help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation that so many struggle with while aging in place. Most communities offer life enrichment programs and activities designed to work around any of the residents’ physical or cognitive limitations. This also includes opportunities for volunteerism, like leading educational discussions and spearheading philanthropic endeavors. When healthy peer-to-peer relationships are fostered and supported by the community, everyone benefits. Having a close friend who can empathize with and even laugh at shared struggles helps seniors stay positive.

Improving your cognitive wellbeing also has a direct impact on your physical health, and active senior living communities offer countless ways to stay physically fit on-site. Planned exercise programs and state-of-the-art fitness centers are commonplace, with low-impact activities like Chair Yoga or Tai Chi available to focus on strength training. Fitness is essential to the wellness programs offered in any senior living community. 

The other key component is a well-balanced diet. Seniors who age at home are at increased risk for poor nutrition – even malnutrition – for many reasons, including a lack of transportation to the grocery store, limited income to buy fresh, healthy ingredients and health conditions that make it harder to cook for themselves. In a community setting, meals are made fresh and provided regularly so you no longer have to worry about eating right. Instead, everything you could want to enjoy a nutritious diet is available.


One of the biggest reasons seniors choose to stay in their own home is because of the perceived costs of senior living. Considering just the numbers that were crunched in previous paragraphs, is it really less expensive to age at home? The answer could surprise you. With all that’s available inside a community setting, from food and amenities, to a residence and healthcare, it simply makes sense to consider moving out of your current home and into senior living. 

Bills can add up quickly in your own home. Mortgage payments — if you’re still making them — monthly utility costs, food, gas, and more could all become harder to manage. Moving into a Life Plan Community rolls almost all of these costs into one monthly fee, in addition to your initial entrance fee. There are still other costs of homeownership that you may not have considered, like trash and snow removal, HOA fees, landscaping services, housekeeping, gym memberships, and home repair costs. All of these are also likely to be included in the monthly fee for most communities.

Even with all that’s included in monthly community fees, the number one thing for most people when considering a move is healthcare costs. When aging in place, you typically have two options for healthcare: either you hire a private caregiver to come into your home or you rely on a family member to take on that role and responsibility. In a Life Plan Community, you enter as a healthy, independent senior and as your health needs change over time, your care costs remain virtually the same. Not only is this type of financial predictability priceless, it also removes the worry of wondering where you’ll receive care and which doctors will be able to provide it for you. Instead, care comes from a team you already know and trust inside the community you’ve already come to call home.


If you’re ready to begin exploring your senior living options, start by getting a better idea of the true monthly costs needed to stay in your home rather than moving to a Life Plan Community. Download this Monthly Cost Impact of Moving to a Retirement Community worksheet (PDF). By filling in the values for your own unique monthly costs, you’ll be able to see how they would compare at any senior living community you’re considering. You just might find that the difference is much less than you would have expected. 

Whatever choice you make, make sure it’s the right one for you and your family by getting a clear picture of what your future could look like in a place like eliseo. Once you’re ready to learn more about us, we’ll be more than happy to talk. Contact us by calling 253-319-3947, or schedule an appointment to visit our Tacoma, WA, campus.