Most of us want to age in place so we can stay in a familiar place and maintain a strong connection with family, friends and a lifetime of memories. As we age, become ill or develop a disability, our current home may not support us effectively. Sometimes, it makes good economic sense to move or downsize.
If you hope to stay at home, here are some things to consider:
Are you able to maintain the home both physically and financially? Are yard work and home maintenance chores manageable? If you are not able to take those chores on yourself, will you be able to afford the help you will need?
Will your home support you if you have a disability or are limited in your basic tasks of daily living? Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to allow a wheelchair? Is there easy access in and out of the home or can a ramp be installed? Would it be easy to install safety equipment such as handrails, grab bars and other devices as needed?
Is there a shower with room for a shower chair if you are unable to use a bathtub?
If you live in a two-story home, is there a full bath and bedroom on the first floor if you become unable to use stairs safely?
Can you continue to afford the home in which you are living? Or will you need to rely on the value of your home to access financial resources to pay for your current or future care needs?
Do you have room in your home for a live-in caregiver or family member to move in if you need occasional or overnight help?
As your physical condition changes, you can obtain services in your home. These services will help you live at home for as long as you are able.
If your home is fully paid off and can accommodate future care needs, it may be more cost-effective to continue to live there, rather than moving. If you want to stay in your home but do not have a lot of money, you can consider a home equity line of credit or a reverse mortgage to provide additional funds by leveraging the equity in your home.
Make your home a safer place to live
These are some actions you can take to make your home a safer place to live.
1. Start making small changes to your home to keep it safe in the years ahead.
2. Some people living alone have a device to call for help in the case of a medical situation or other emergency. Think about whether an emergency response system might be appropriate for you at some point in the future.
3. Find out more about various assistive devices and in-home technology that you can include in your home to help you adapt to physical and mental challenges of aging, illness or disability.