Retirees Rank Home Care No. 1 Way to Meet Long-Term Needs

The vast majority of retirees 50 and older say their top preference for receiving long-term care is in their own home, driving demand for these services, according to a new Merrill Lynch retirement study conducted in partnership with Age Wave. 

Eighty-five percent say, if needed, they would prefer to receive extended care in their home, followed by 10% who said an assisted living facility was their top choice. Four percent said the home of a family member would be their top preference to receive care, and only 1% said a nursing home.

Among people age 85 and older, about three-quarters have difficulties with daily activities, including housework or getting around the home, data show.


New services, technologies and options are enabling a greater number of people to receive care at home, said Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of Age Wave, during a presentation of the report. 

In fact, the number of nursing home residents has declined in the past decade, while at the same time the number of people receiving care at home has increased, data show.

“Another dynamic to those aging is 52% of those 75 and older live alone,” said David Tyrie, head of Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, noting an increasing need for home health care services. “Today there are 23 million single Baby Boomers, and 15 million that don’t have children.”


Age 55 and older households account for nearly half (47%) of all spending on home renovations, or about $90 billion annually, data show. Of these households spending money on home renovations, 28% are adding safety features to accommodate aging, and 15% are modifying their home to live on one floor should there be trouble with stairs.

In addition, retirees are not just interested in traditional remodeling activities — they’re interested in technologies that can help them improve and monitor their health.

Three-quarters (76%) are interested in technologies to monitor their health at home, such as sensors, alerts, or medication reminder apps, data show. And six in 10 (58%) are interested in technologies to help them maintain their home, such as cleaning robots or heated driveways.

“As people grow into their later years they don’t want to be forced out of their comfortable home,” Dychtwald said. He noted that especially as people age, moving feels “scary, or unpleasant.”

“Today there are more choices to enable people to remain in their homes as they age,” he said. 

Access “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices” here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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