It makes sense both financially and emotionally to remain in your home for as long as you can. Assisted living costs are increasing exponentially. With some preparation and modifications, you can remain at home to age in your own community.
First, assess your neighborhood and nearby community. Are there sufficient services available? Are there amenities like shopping within walking distance? Do make sure to build a network of support within your circle of neighbors and friends. You can volunteer and attend neighborhood activities. Look for the 4s’- Safety, Services, Social Connections, and Stimulation. Staying at home is not a plus if you are alone and isolated.
Start thinking about future mobility. It may be necessary for you to live on one floor. A dining room or back porch can be renovated into a master bedroom. Even a first-floor powder room can be changed to a full bath with a walk-in tub. Widening a doorway or installing ramps can be done for less than a thousand dollars. Consider a laundry room off the kitchen.
Finances must be considered, so early planning is a good idea. Many seniors have ample equity in their homes to finance renovations. But be aware that home equity loans can have adjustable interest rates, so taxes and insurance will need to be budgeted. Family needs to realize that for you to stay at home, you may be passing on less than expected, but it is still cheaper than the alternative. The renovations will probably not add to the value of your home; it is for your comfort now.
Sharing your home is one path more seniors are choosing to afford staying in their homes. If you are near a college or university, students make good roommates. Another older person can be a good idea also. Do screen applicants both financially and background. Formal paperwork like a lease to spell out all aspects of the agreement is essential. You can look for home-sharing networks in your area or check out Silvernest.com. It is a home-sharing site for seniors with several services like background checks, lease generating, auto rent payments, and compatibility matching.
If you decide your home is too large or too expensive to renovate or is not near enough amenities, you may decide you will need to downsize. Be aware that moving closer to amenities near the city center may come with some sticker shock. Look to less expensive areas a bit further out that will serve your needs. Many townhome and condo developments do cater to seniors with services and amenities available.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO