Staying in your home as you age, or “aging in place,” is all the rage among retirees and future retirees, and for good reason. We’ve studied this issue for years, and read many articles about aging in place, which is something nine out of ten seniors say they prefer to do. For most seniors we agree that aging in place can be the best idea – that is, if you take steps now to prepare your home for the future. Your needs, your health and your finances will all change in the years ahead, so now may be the time to make certain your home will be ready for you.
This just-published article on the website of US News is a helpful guide as you think about the changes that it might make sense to make to the home you enjoy today, so that it will meet your needs tomorrow. We like this article because it goes beyond some of the tips we’ve read elsewhere. Things that make your home more “senior friendly” such as installing grab bars and upgrading lighting are important steps to take, but there are other things you can do to your home that will not only add resale value but also increase your enjoyment of your home for years to come, and even enhance your financial picture in the process.
In the US News article the first recommended upgrade does involve accessibility. The beauty of most of these suggested improvements is that they will add value to your home even if you yourself never need to use them. This broad category of accessibility improvements includes new door handles (easier on arthritic hands), better lighting (an obvious boon to help with decreasing visual acuity and night vision), as well as more costly amenities including upgrading to a European-style walk-in shower that can accommodate a wheelchair or walker. How much of these modifications you can do yourself and how much will require the services of a contractor will vary greatly, as will the cost. You may need a professional to come in and make a thorough survey of your home; then he’ll provide you with a list of recommended modifications. If you would like some referrals on who to call for an in-home evaluation, call us here at AgingOptions.
The second suggestion may be a new idea for you as you consider aging in place: when you remodel, add an income-producing suite. “With easy options for renting out space in your home, such as Airbnb, turning your home into an income property has never been easier,” writes US News. Many cities are also actively encouraging so-called mother-in-law living units to cope with rising demands for housing. This extra rental income can make a big difference in helping you afford to stay in your home after retirement.
Here’s a third suggestion we like: whether or not you decide to create a suite that can provide income, you may also want to turn an extra room into a guest space that’s comfortable and well-appointed. An appealing guest room makes it much easier to host the kids or grandkids, not to mention out of town visitors, and if you have a room that’s always ready for guests you’ll be more inclined to extend the invitation. No more air mattresses on the living room floor!
The fourth and fifth home renovation ideas are somewhat more practical: upgrade your bath and/or kitchen, and make sure you boost your home’s energy efficiency. “Of all the home remodeling options,” says US News, “upgrading a bath or kitchen is usually the one that gets you the most bang for your buck.” And it doesn’t have to entail a costly top-to-bottom overhaul. “Simply modernizing your finishes can give your room a whole new look.” As for energy efficiency, it may be important, especially if your house is on the older side, to fix energy-robbing problems now, when you can afford it. By upgrading windows, adding skylights, maybe even adding solar panels if they’re cost-effective where you live, you can reap financial rewards for years to come while making the old home that much more comfortable.
The final suggestion is our favorite on the US News list: consider adding a home office. Why will this improve your ability to age in place? It’s because a very high percentage of retirees plan to keep working as they get older, most likely part time. Turning a spare room into a home office generally requires relatively little expense, and it will be a selling point down the line. Meanwhile, you’ll be better able to earn that freelance or part-time income if you have a space in your house that’s conducive to the work you plan to do. Think of it as an investment in yourself.
These six suggestions are among the many we’ve encountered as we’ve talked with clients and radio listeners about aging in place. In spite of the fact that almost all seniors want to remain at home, aging in place isn’t necessarily the best choice for everyone. To explore the topic further, we encourage you to bring your housing questions when you attend one of AgingOptions’ free LifePlanning Seminars, the retirement planning seminar like no other. We not only dive into issues related to housing, but we also show how your financial plan fits into the picture. We help you understand what legal protection you’ll need, depending on your particular situation. We explain the medical insurance options that will be important as you age. We even help you plan the best way to make sure your family knows and supports your wishes, since aging is a family affair.
Find out more by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar in your area. You’ll come away with a fresh new perspective on the power of a LifePlan to help ensure the retirement you’ve always hoped for. Click here for a listing of seminar dates, times and locations – then register online, or contact our office during the week. When it comes to retirement planning, there’s simply no better, more comprehensive approach than an AgingOptions LifePlan.
(originally reported at money.usnews.com)