I’m in the group that people survey. That is, I’m “over 65.” And of course I want to live at home. If I didn’t I'd move. And if could afford it, I’d move myself into a hotel or, better yet, a full time resort. If I didn’t like my home, I’d move to another one. The key here is that I’m perfectly capable of living by myself. Well, what I mean is, with my wife since I’m not sure I could survive too long on take-out food. But you get what I’m saying.
After my stepmother died, my brother and I talked with my father about what he wanted to do. The apartment he was living in was far from me or my brother, he wasn’t mobile, he had few friends since he had outlived them all and the few that were left never came over to visit. Plus, he needed someone to live in with him—to prepare his meals, to clean, to get him to and from the bathroom, etc. Still, he said he wanted to stay in the apartment. And so he did. Until he didn’t. After a few months he decided that it was getting too hard for him and too lonely being by himself all the time, even with the caregiver we had hired. So then he moved, and it was with our blessing. He moved into an assisted living facility where he lived out the rest of his life. He was much happier there. He didn’t have a lot of friends there. But meals were with other people and sometimes they talked with each other. He went to a few activities and again, he interacted with people, not just the one caregiver he would have had access to at home. He told me, close to the end of his life as it turned out, that he was happy there. He used the word “content.” Moving to the facility was definitely the right thing to do. And had researchers asked him about it, he would have said, “No, I didn’t want to live at home. For one, it had too many bad memories. But really, I couldn’t manage by myself and, frankly, I was lonely.”
So I challenge researchers to sample the right population before making absurd comments about how “older people” want to live in their homes. “90% want to live at home” makes a great headline. But it’s a meaningless statistic.