Guest Post by Claire Wentz, CaringFromAfar.com
Is your home as safe as it could be? Or are you awkwardly maneuvering mobility aids through doorways, stretching to reach your kitchen cabinets, and shuffling across slick flooring? While mobility changes are a part of getting older, your home shouldn’t be making life harder.
Most seniors need to modify their homes in order to continue aging there safely. However, remodeling for aging in place requires more than grab bars and an entrance ramp. Here are some modifications to consider if you plan to live at home as you age:
- Installing additional lighting throughout the home, including task lighting, and replacing light switches with rocker switches or motion-activated lighting.
- Replacing long-pile carpeting and slick flooring with slip-resistant flooring.
- Building an entrance ramp.
- Installing an elevator for second floor access.
- Increasing the width of doorways and hallways.
- Installing lowered or adjustable-height kitchen counters.
- Replacing kitchen appliances with more accessible models.
- Installing a curbless shower, raised toilet seat, and bathroom grab bars.
- Adding a first-floor bathroom.
- Replacing door knobs with levers and cabinet handles with D-shaped pulls.
- Lowering cabinets and adding pull-down shelving and roll-out trays.
While this list includes the most important home modifications, it’s not all-inclusive. For more ways to make your home safer for aging in place, see the National Association of Home Builders’ aging-in-place remodeling checklist.
Your first instinct may be to remodel your current home. Especially if it’s the house you raised your family in, you might be reluctant to leave it. However, remodeling is costly, and the final bill can easily total in the tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes, it makes more sense to sell your house and purchase a home that’s more suited to your changing needs.
Seniors benefit from downsizing to a smaller home throughout their golden years. A more compact home is easier to navigate as your mobility changes and requires less upkeep than a large, multi-story home. You’ll also have fewer rooms to remodel for accessibility, so you’ll spend less time and money on home modifications.
If you decide to move, search for single-story homes that offer step-free entrances, open floor plans, and wide doorways and hallways. These are the bare bones necessities for accessible living, and purchasing a home that already has these features will save you money on remodeling. Search for ranch homes for sale here.
Before you start looking at homes, work with a real estate agent to figure a listing value for your current home. While the average sales price of Oak Park Illinois homes is around $450,000, yours may be worth more or less depending on its age, size, condition, location, and design. Get an instant estimate of your home's value by clicking here.
After you know what your home is worth, identify the changes you’ll need to make to a future home. Fully accessible homes are rare, so expect to make several modifications from the above list. Subtract the estimated cost of remodeling projects from your home’s listing price, and you’ll have an idea of what you can afford to spend on a new home. Now you’re ready to start reviewing listings to see what’s on the market in your target price range.
If you’re having trouble finding homes that meet your accessibility needs and your budget, consider whether it’s best to finance renovations now or budget them out over time. You can learn more about financing home renovations at This Old House’s website.
Remodeling your home is no small feat -- and it's not an inexpensive one, either. However, compared to the cost of living in nursing home or assisted living facility, aging in place is often the more economical choice. Whether you decide to modify your existing home or relocated to a downsized dwelling, you'll have the comfort of aging on your own terms.
Having trouble deciding whether to stay in your home or downsize? Let's talk about it! Call me anytime at 630-248-1976. I'm always here to help! ~Laurie Christofano, Realtor with The Pych Team at RE/MAX In The Village.