Renovating your home for accessibility is a great way to age in place, but not every home or location is suited for this kind of renovation. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself these 10 questions.
1. Is My Home In A Beneficial Location?
The first thing homeowners looking to age in place need to do is assess the location of your home. If your home is in an inconvenient location, you may find yourself having difficulty getting out of your home, regardless of how accessible your home is on the inside. The criteria for a beneficial location include: Close to services, friends and family, and a community of other seniors that you can interact with.
2. How Much Time Can I See Myself Spending In My Home?
Many active seniors choose to have homes in multiple locations, especially when living in cold climates, to avoid the winter months. If you have a spacious home, but see yourself living more of a snowbird lifestyle, it may be beneficial to downsize your home and purchase two smaller residences. This not only saves you money for your retirement but also saves you the trouble of having to upkeep a home if you won’t be using it for months at a time.
3. What Are The Safety Risks In My Current Home?
Take a tour through your current home and make a list of the items you’ll need to address if you plan to stay in your current location. Some of the most hazardous home designs include wraparound staircases, unequal floors between rooms, frequent changes from carpet to hardwood floors, and bathrooms with slippery surfaces.
4. Am I Willing To Modify My Home To Mitigate Those Risks?
Modifying your home to age in place successfully is a major undertaking, and not just because of the renovation itself. It’s likely that to make your home more accessible, many renovations will have to be done at one time. This means clearing out your home and moving back in once the renovation is done. It is no small feat, but it can be greatly rewarding.
5. Do I See Myself Keeping Up With The Maintenance of My Home?
Larger spaces require more maintenance than smaller spaces, and freestanding homes require more maintenance than condos. When evaluating your home, think about how often you have to do home maintenance. This includes anything from cleaning and dusting to outdoor care for gardens and entryways. If any of these items are already challenging, do your finances allow you to hire outside help for these services? Do you want to put money aside for this? Asking yourself what is already challenging for you can be an accurate predictor of what you will be able to do in the future.
6. What Is My True Budget?
Aging successfully isn’t just about the place you live, it’s about the things you want to do. Do you want to travel more when you retire? Are there other goals that you want to achieve? Your home is an asset, and while aging in place is the most important thing for some seniors, others don’t feel this is as important. Ask yourself, are you thinking about staying in your home because it will compliment your lifestyle, or because it is the safer option?
7. Am I Financially Prepared To Have In-Home Help?
Many seniors don’t factor in the care they may need to their retirement plans. Everything from medical assistance to gardening to maid services factor into your cost of living. It’s not enough to simply have your house paid off. To ascertain your true budget, figure out exactly what you spend over the course of a month, and what additional services (medical, maintenance) cost per month in your area. Multiply this by 12 and you have your yearly requirements for living expenses.
8. How Likely Am I To Sell This Home In The Next 15 Years?
Accessible homes are not always easy sells, even if they are renovated properly. If you’re not planning to stay in your home for the long haul, renovating may make your property more complicated to sell and eat into your profit margin.
9. What Is The Transportation Like Near My Home?
Many seniors have trouble driving and will eventually have to take private or public modes of transportation. If you live in a rural area, finding public or private transportation can be slow and complicated, neither of which work well for an active senior lifestyle. Test out not being able to use your vehicle for a few days. Is it easy enough to get around? Can you get to the places you usually go with ease?
10. Does My Family Live Close By?
Having friends and family around you is one of the best ways to stay active as a senior. Do your friends and family live close by? If they don’t, would you want to be able to have them stay with you when they do? Many seniors picture their homes as places where children and grandchildren have space to roam around or sleep. If this is important to you, staying in your home and renovating could be the perfect solution to maintain mobility with more space.
Regardless of whether you choose to renovate your home or downsize to more successfully age in place, there are hundreds of resources available on the IA Living blog to help you achieve your goals. Check out the IA Checklist for an in-depth toolkit on what you should be looking for when you evaluate the inside of your home.