Provided by Claire Wentz from Caring From Afar
As we age, some activities of daily living must be modified to accommodate changes in our physical abilities. In some instances, it makes the most sense to hire a contractor to retrofit or modify your existing home to make it easier and safer to navigate. This approach lets you stay in familiar surroundings while affording you all the other benefits of aging in place.
The Upside of Staying Put
Once you become an empty-nester and find yourself living in a large home that’s more than what you realistically need, it can feel like it’s a bit much to manage. This is especially true if you're regularly navigating stairs, bringing in groceries from a basement location, or trying to maintain a house with areas that are infrequently used.
However, there’s much to be said about staying where you are and modifying your surroundings as needed. Remaining in your own home over the long-term means you won't have the hassle of packing and moving to a new location. Also, you likely have friends and neighbors who live close by, which, according to Senior Outlook Today, means you can retain your existing support system. You’ll also maintain proximity to favorite local amenities, regular healthcare providers, and other familiar services.
Benefits of Home Modification
If you'd like to take advantage of the benefits of aging in place, consider hiring a qualified general contractor to walk through your house and property and make recommendations for ways your home can be altered to be safe, comfortable, and easier to live in. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, mobility issues are of particular concern. As such, consider adding safety rails in key locations, installing a chairlift, or creating a ramp or alternative entrance to your home to bypass stairs.
You might also consider closing off rooms you don’t need and consolidating your living space all on one floor. Simple changes to floor plan layout, the installation of easy-open cabinetry, and even swapping out slippery shower stalls for walk-in whirlpool tubs can make a big difference in how you live.
How To Choose A Contractor
If you decide to get a home modification quote from a contractor, a bit of advanced research will help ensure you find someone who has experience in retrofitting homes to make them accessible and senior-friendly. Take into consideration any current mobility issues you have, as well as anticipate potentially encountering in the future. For example, if you have a progressive form of arthritis, it might not be a big concern now, but in the future, it could be more difficult to open heavy doors or work older fixtures.
Ask family, friends, and neighbors for referrals to contractors they’ve had personal experience with, and check both your state contracting association and the Better Business Bureau you find the best company for the job. Interview several people and get written estimates, as well as completion timetable, before making a final decision.
Buying A New Home
Sometimes it just makes more sense to downsize to a smaller house than it does to retrofit or maintain a home that’s too large. While you have the option of moving locally, you might also consider a new location, like a warner climate or a place that’s closer to extended family. To get a good feel for what it might cost to relocate, consult online sites to price homes your areas of interest.
You can also employ the services of a qualified real estate agent, either in your home city or in a location you’re looking to explore. A reputable banker or mortgage lender can also help you examine your financial picture, looking at debt load, savings, retirement income, and the value of your existing home. This will give you a good idea about what you can afford.
Living needs and accommodations change throughout the course of our lives, and as such, we sometimes have to adjust our living spaces. Take into consideration your physical health — as well as the amount of time, energy, and money it takes to maintain your current living situation — and the benefits you might enjoy by buying something newer and smaller. Having all of the options in front of you will help ensure you make the best choice.
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Bob Michaels is extremely passionate about providing the best possible legal experience for his clients, and focuses his practice on elder law, estate planning, business, and real estate matters. Bob has been able to provide piece of mind and a solid foundation to many folks in the Puget Sound area over the years and wants to provide resources and relevant information whenever he can.