Merrill Lynch recently hired research firm Age Wave to collect information about older Americans and their housing plans, post-retirement. The firm surveyed more than 3,600 people of both genders, with a cross-section of incomes, ages and ethnic groups, and they discovered the following:
- 81 percent of respondents who were aged 65+ were homeowners
- 72 percent of them have paid off their mortgages
- Their average home equity is $213,000
- 66 percent of retirees said they felt free to live where they chose
- 51 percent of retirees who moved went to a smaller home
- 30 percent of retirees who moved went to a bigger home
People have made a variety of housing decisions, post retirement. But this CNBC article’s title points out a fact that keeps surfacing in surveys taken by numerous organizations: For retirees, there’s no place like home, especially their own. And making some simple fixes to your home can play an important role in maintaining your health and independence.
Home Renovations to Make Homes Safer
Not surprisingly, increasing numbers of older adults in the United States (aged 55+) are investing money in home renovations. In fact, in 2014, older Americans spent $90 billion on home upgrades, which was 47 percent of the national total, according to studies by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Much of that money was spent on making homes more age-friendly.
Tips for Making Your Home Safer
An article in U.S. News: Money quotes a MetLife report: “Most homes,” the report says, “use ‘Peter Pan housing’ designs, because they appear to be built for people who will never grow old.”
This article lists ways to modify homes to make them age-friendly; the first round of which should cost $1,000 or less and focuses on fall prevention. These can involve:
- Removing throw rugs, especially in the bathroom
- Installing grab bars and grips in the bathroom
- Assuring sturdy handrails on both sides of stairs
- Installing good lighting and switching especially at stairs, halls, and entries
- Securing or removing carpets at stairs; soft path lighting for nighttime mobility
The next set of priorities make a home easier to navigate and can cost between $4,500 and $30,000. These can involve:
- Relocating furniture so clear pathways exist
- Removing raised entrances between rooms and to the house itself. These changes will also help with fall prevention
More expensive renovations involve bathroom and kitchen makeovers, perhaps installing a no-step shower and, in the kitchen, creating lower work and storage areas.
Even though these renovations aren’t necessarily cheap, they make financial sense, the MetLife report says.
“Using $10,000 as a sample cost for basic structural modifications compared to assisted living costs at $3,000-plus a month, avoiding those costs for a little more than three months will pay for home modifications,” the report says, noting this is a short payback period.
An article published at Think Advisor, Aging in Place: Are Home Renovations Worth the Cost, also takes a look at the financial ramifications of renovating your home to make it age-friendly.
This article quotes Assisted Living Federation of America as saying a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living community averages $3,022 per month – with more upscale communities in luxury locations costing three times as much.
“Even a few extra years spent in an updated home could save a client thousands of dollars,” the article concludes – and, taking that statement to its logical conclusion, long-term aging in place makes these renovations even more fiscally wise.
Staying in your home as you age can not only save you money, a few modifications can help make it as safe as possible so you can enjoy it for years to come.