While some people dream of traveling the world in retirement or moving permanently to a vacation spot, the truth is most people would rather live out their golden years exactly where they are. Over 75 percent of Americans would prefer to “age in place," according to AARP.
The realities of aging, however, often require specific modifications to make living easier. Wider hallways and doors offer better access for wheelchairs and walkers and walk-in showers provide a significantly easier (and safer) bathing experience.
Such renovations can be costly, but there are several sound reasons to make the investment. The first and foremost are your continued safety and independence, but age-related modifications could potentially save you money over the long term.
The longer you're able to stay in your home, the less time you'll need to spend in an assisted living facility or nursing home, which can cost on average at least $48,000 per year or more, according to research from Genworth.
Even if you decide to move, age-related updates can actually add value to your home. As the population continues to grow older, it's more likely that future home buyers will be looking for homes with modifications already in place. By 2035, one in three American households will be headed by someone 65 years or older, and the percentage of older households including a family member with a disability will increase by 76 percent, according to Harvard's Joint Center on Housing Studies.
If you're considering renovations to make life easier in a few years, here are some tips that will help:
Go big early
At the very least, the bedroom and bathroom should be easy to access. For many in multi-story homes, this means, moving the master bedroom and bathroom to the first floor or adding an elevator system, though this can be cost prohibitive. The main bathroom should also have a step-in shower. Making these larger renovations earlier when you have time to plan can reduce the inevitable stress major changes can cause.
Tackle smaller projects in increments
There are numerous small improvements that will make your home more accessible, such as replacing doorknobs with levers and installing pull-out shelving inside of cabinets, but you can take your time addressing them. A good tip is to start with the projects that will help you the most. For example, if you are starting to have pain in your hands and/or wrists, tackle your doorknobs first. AARP's HomeFit Guide offers ideas on making every room in your home more accessible.
Voice-activated technology and connected devices can also help you remain in your home for longer. A smart doorbell, for example, will allow you to see who's there without having to quickly get from the back of the house to the front, some even allow you speak to visitors if needed. Smart plugs and devices can be connected to your smartphone or tablet, so you can control them from wherever you are.
Pay for renovations smartly
You have a number of options to pay for renovations, but tapping into your home's equity may be the smartest. Because your home acts as collateral, you can get a lower rate than a credit card or other unsecured loan.
The Figure Home Equity Line combines the best features of a home equity loan and home equity line of credit (fixed rate, lump sum of money, and the ability make additional draws once the initial amount is paid down). You'll be able to access the full amount of your loan often in as few as 5 days2, and if the used for home improvements, the loan interest may be a tax write off5.