Aging-in-Place is more than a trend. A 2021 AARP survey revealed almost 75% of survey respondents 50 and older want to stay in their homes for the long term. This number has remained consistent over the last decade.
Like so many other decisions, this should be addressed well in advance so preparations can be made.
Health and Finances
Health is a consideration in much of what we do as we get older. It is a major consideration in determining if you should consider aging-in-place.
So often the answer to a question is, “it depends.” An honest evaluation of your health may reveal things that may impact your ability or desire to stay in your home. For example, if your health is generally good, it is likely that only the basic safety and comfort features may need to be adjusted. However, if you have health conditions that currently require, or may require, some form of assistance perhaps staying in your current residence isn’t the best option for your quality of life.
The “it depends” is where finances enter the picture. Obviously, if you have the financial capacity to address those issues in a way that allows you to stay in your home, aging-in -place may still be possible.
However, there are many more financial considerations that enter into this decision. They need to be addressed in totality to ensure your financial future is secure.
Is Your Home Ready?
There are several structural considerations in the home to consider. What does the entrance look like? Is it a no-step from the sidewalk? If there are steps, are they built to code, sturdy, with adequate railings? Can a ramp be installed to facilitate using a walker or a wheelchair if needed? Does the threshold have a low profile? These questions apply whether your entrance is directly from the outside or from inside the garage.
A main consideration is whether there is a first-floor bedroom and bathroom and whether they are functionally accessible. In other words, are thresholds level to avoid tripping hazards? Are doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair if it becomes needed? Remodeling the bathroom is often one of the first major structural projects to consider. Converting a tub/shower arrangement to a curb-free walk-in/roll-in shower with grab bars in appropriate places is the most complex piece of this puzzle. A taller toilet, also with appropriate grab bars, is another fixture to consider. A bidet toilet aids with personal hygiene. This can also be accomplished by installing a bidet seat on the toilet, which is a less costly option.
Converting knob handles to levers on sinks and in the shower makes them easier to operate when there are dexterity challenges. Other considerations in the bathroom are nonslip surfaces on the floor and adequate lighting.
The Smart Home and Aging-in-Place
There is an abundance of technology that exists to assist with or accomplish many daily tasks, often referred to as smart home technology. Lights, appliances, and entertainment devices can all be operated by voice or from a mobile phone or tablet. Locks, cameras, and exterior lights can be incorporated into smart home technology as well.
A major consideration is the financial ability to stay in your home. This includes the mortgage if there is one, HOA fees, taxes, and maintenance at a minimum. Of course, there is the cost of any updates and renovations that need to be made.
Additionally, do you have the resources for in-home assistance should it become necessary? Do you have family, friends and community organizations to rely on? Can you afford transportation to appointments and activities if you’re unable to drive yourself?
So Many Questions
Whether you are making the decision for yourself or a loved one, the process is the same. It requires thoughtful introspection and thorough research. Asking the tough questions, and more importantly giving truthful answers, will lay the foundation for making this decision.
We’ve included additional resources to help you get started.