Deciding to Move or Renovate for Aging in Place
About 90% of Americans over 65 want to remain in their homes as they age, rather than move to assisted living.
You can add wheelchair lifts, roll in showers, kitchen lifts and other accessibility products to any home at any time. However, seniors who plan for aging in place before they actually require accessible products are better prepared and have more options than those who wait until there is an emergency or sudden need for accessibility in their home.
Many factors can influence your decision to renovate your current home or move to a more suitable abode. Even if you move, you will still likely need to do renovations in your new place, but those renovations may be less costly depending on the overall layout of the house.
Factors to consider in your decision to move or renovate:
• Layout of the House - The ideal house design for aging in place is a single level home on a flat lot. A multi-story home could work if there is already a main floor bedroom and full bathroom, or if those rooms can be added easily. Houses with vital rooms on the upper floors do not have a good layout for creating accessibility and could be costly to renovate.
• Location – Access to grocery shopping, medical and emergency services and other community services will be more important as you age. Proximity to other support resources, like family members and friends, religious community, and social clubs will be important as well. When seniors or those with mobility disabilities find it difficult to get out or are location isolated, they are more likely to become depressed and lonely. The more social roles one has, the healthier we are. And so it's important to be close to the community and loved ones, especially if one requires help moving around.
• Cost comparisons – Be sure to research all costs involved in renovations. Research immediate project requirements and anticipate future renovations that will be needed to accommodate changing needs. Compare all renovation costs with the possibility of moving to get a practical idea of which option is more affordable. A move involves a lump sum cost, where renovations could be paid for as you go. Remember that even if you decide to move, the new home will likely require some renovations, so make sure to include those costs in your comparisons.
• Significant reasons to stay – If you are considering accessibility for your aging parents, but have kids in school or you are close to work or other relatives, then moving may not be the best option right now, unless you can find a more suitable house in the same neighborhood.
• Long-term planning- You may not need a wheelchair lift or roll in shower right now, but it's important to consider possible health issues that may develop. If you plan on living at home and want to stay independent for as long as possible, it’s important to consider your and your spouse's potential needs in the future. Also consider the possibility of aging family and friends who may need to move in.