More and more Americans are aging in place, rather than moving into assisted living facilities. If you’re getting older and your goal is to remain at home and be independent for as long as possible, you have to think about how your needs might change in the future.
The sooner you begin to prepare, the better off you’ll be. One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether you should modify your current home or look for a different one.
Consider Your Home’s Location
Where your house is located will be increasingly important as you get older. You will likely rely more on family and friends for help, so you’ll want to live in a place where loved ones are nearby. Driving might get challenging as you age, so you’ll want to be near doctors’ offices, a grocery store, a pharmacy and community activities that you enjoy.
Think About Accessibility
Seniors often have trouble going up and down stairs. Due to the risk of falls and serious injuries, it’s generally a good idea for older adults to live in a house with a single floor or with a bedroom, bathroom and other essential rooms on the ground level.
If your current home doesn’t have that type of design, you might be able to make modifications so it will be suitable as you get older. For example, if you have a downstairs family room, you might be able to convert it into a bedroom. Another option is to install a stair lift so it will be easy to safely move between levels.
Older adults sometimes rely on a wheelchair to get around at home. In some houses, hallways and doorways aren’t wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. It’s possible to renovate a house and make it wheelchair accessible, but that can be expensive.
You also have to consider the size and layout of bathrooms and whether they will be safe as you get older. Installing a walk-in shower and grab bars can make a bathroom safer and easier to use for aging adults.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Staying Put and Moving
Your and your spouse’s needs might change dramatically in the coming years. The house that you love might no longer serve your needs.
The costs for these types of projects will depend on your home’s current design and where you live. Consider your home’s layout and the types of changes that would be required and get estimates from local contractors.
You also have to take the real estate market into consideration. If you can sell your house for a good price and buy a less expensive one that suits your needs, that can be a smart move. If that’s not possible, renovating might be a better financial decision.