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According to a recent Point survey, nearly 70% of homeowners ages 50 to 80 feel it's extremely important to live in their current home for as long as possible. More and more older Americans prefer staying in their familiar environs than uprooting to a senior retirement community.
Staying in your abode provides comfort, safety, opportunities to create new memories with loved ones—and a sense of freedom and independence in your later years.
Common concerns about aging in place
While staying in one's home as long as possible ranks high on older Americans' wants, according to the Point survey, only half of the respondents feel their home is "somewhat ready" to age in place. Another third reveals that their home isn't ready at all.
The disconnect between one's future wants, and current moves might be chalked up to stumbling blocks about remodeling one's home so they can have the ability to live there comfortably for decades.
Top concerns about aging in place might be:
Predicting future needs. As we age, our health and well-being can change. However, we can’t predict what home modifications will be needed — there is no magic oracle to consult. So, there's no way to tell which are essential and in what order to prioritize these making changes.
For example, if one is struck with mobility issues, grab bars, rounded countertops, and slip-resistant floors might be top home projects. A universal design can be a better investment. These changes to one's home can provide security and comfort to a wide range of people.
Planning for changes in the family. Another wild card: Whether one's kids end up moving in with them and end up living in a multigenerational household can also impact what kind of upgrades they want to make.
Paying for remodeling projects. Per our survey, about one-third of older homeowners who want to age in place don't know how they'll cover necessary home improvements. Another one-third reveal they already have the cash on hand to get their homes ready for their future selves.
Age in place remodeling
If you're a homeowner preparing to age in place, there are likely modifications to your home that have crossed your mind. Depending on your current and anticipated needs, here are some common aging in place remodeling projects to consider:
Home improvement projects largely depend on your preferences, situation, and needs. Still, modifications to your overall layout might include:
- Wider turn space in the main rooms (i.e., bathroom, living area, kitchen, and bedroom).
- Eliminate steps between rooms.
- Widen hallways and doors to help with any mobility issues.
- Chairlift to make the home more accessible.
- Remodel so most of the main everyday living amenities are on the first floor of the home.
- Install more windows, skylights, or solar tubes to bring in more natural sunlight.
- Adjust the height of your windows so they're lower or higher.
- Upgrade the finishes on your walls and countertops to a lower maintenance material.
As mentioned before, consider a universal design that provides comfort, safety, and aesthetic design best suited for most people. If you might live in a multigenerational household with youngsters, universal design might be the way route for you.
Common kitchen aging in place home remodeling projects include:
- Updating to rounded countertops to bump down the odds of injury should one fall.
- Incorporating accented stripes on the edge of countertops to boost visual orientation.
- Adding roll-out trays, lazy Susans, pull-down shelving, and open shelving to store pantry items and kitchenware you use frequently.
- Lowering the cabinetry a few inches for easier reach.
- Adding adjustable and height counters of varying heights.
Here are some bathroom remodels to consider for the bathroom:
- Swapping handled faucets for motion-control ones.
- Installing anti-scalding, temperature controls in your shower.
- Adding automatic flushing mechanisms or a bidet.
- Adding a sideway step to your tub or replacing your existing bathtub with a walk-in tub to boost safety.
- Installing a bath seat and grab bars or handrails.
- Upgrading to a raised toilet seat with grab bars on either side.
Home improvements for the outside of your home can be as important as the interior ones. Think of ways to accommodate changes in your lifestyle and mobility, which might include:
- Changing your landscape so it makes for easier upkeep and lower maintenance exteriors (i.e., vinyl, brick).
- Installing a ramp so it's wheelchair- or walker-accessible.
- Making sure the doorbell is in an accessible location.
- Adding a sensor light in your driveway.
- Upgrading your garage by installing a ramp from your garage to your doorway or putting in a raised roof.
The proper changes to your flooring can prevent falls, increase comfort, and make it easier to get from room to room. Home improvement projects might include the following:
- Slip-resistant surfaces that are also non-glare.
- Low-density carpet with firm padding, if you have carpet.
- The addition of texture of color to surfaces can increase visibility and prevent slips and falls.
Believe it or not, our chosen appliances can significantly impact our comfort, convenience, and overall safety as we age. Appliance upgrades can enhance accessibility, promote energy efficiency, simplify daily tasks, and contribute to a more secure living environment.
- Replacing older, run-down appliances with eco-friendly or energy-efficient ones can save you money and increase your level of comfort.
- Swapping out your existing washer and dryer for front-loading models and raising them above the floor to avoid exertion.
- Replacing current appliances with ones that feature easy-to-read controls.
- Placing a fridge and freezer side-by-side or installing a side-swing oven.
- Raising your dishwasher with controls with a push-button.
Updates and improvements to boost efficiency and help with changes in your health aren't everything. To maintain a balance of comfort, practicality, and aesthetics, consider working with an aging in place specialist.