Top-Notch House Hunting Tips for Aging in Place
Now that you’re retired and spending more time at home, chances are you’re starting to realize all the little ways that your house makes daily life difficult. Rather than waiting until your home is no longer manageable, why not start shopping for an age-friendly home now? This guide will help you decide if aging in place is the right choice for you and teach you what to look for in an age-friendly home.
Is Aging in Place the Right Move?
Before you go through the trouble of selling, house hunting, and moving, make sure aging in place is the right move for you. If you’re in good health with few to no mobility problems, you should be able to enjoy many years in your new home. However, if you expect to need help at home within the next few years, you may be better off making do in your current home until it’s time for assisted living.
Assessing Your Aging-in-Place Needs
If you’re confident aging in place is the best decision for you, the next steps are thinking about what you need from an age-friendly home and reaching out to a real estate expert on the Mary Ellen Vanaken Team. Your real estate agent will be able to help you determine the characteristics of the house you need as well as the surrounding community.
While moving to the country may offer a lower cost of living, Business Insider points out that many seniors find the conveniences of urban and suburban living to be well worth the higher price. Rural seniors risk isolation when they can no longer drive, whereas seniors who live close to the action have easy access to health care, transportation, community centers, social events, medical facilities, and everything else they need for healthy aging.
As for the home itself, consider both your personal and financial capabilities. If you plan to finance your new home, determine what you can afford, and start looking at mortgage options and interest rates. PennyMac mortgage, for example, offers loans to fit a variety of needs, whether conventional, FHA, USDA or VA. Regardless of the lender you choose, it’s important that the terms and conditions match up with your finances.
Also, while a home with spare bedrooms and a big backyard is great for hosting grandkids, it may become unmanageable as you age if you can’t afford regular housekeeping and lawn care services. Similarly, seniors living on strict budgets may prefer a condominium over a single-family home to avoid unexpected home repair bills.
The Best Home Features for Aging in Place
Aging in place isn’t one-size-fits-all, however, there are some features that undoubtedly make a home better for senior living. As you search for a home for aging-in-place, keep these features at the top of your priority list.
Two-story homes aren’t completely off-limits for older adults, but a multi-story home should offer complete living on the first floor. That means a first-floor master bedroom and bathroom as well as a first-floor laundry room.
At least one entrance to an age-friendly home should offer step-free access. Consider the door you’ll use most often. If a house has street parking or a detached garage, a step-free front entrance is best, but if you’ll exit through an attached garage, prioritize a barrier-free passageway from the garage to the main house.
High-pile carpets are a recipe for falls, especially for seniors who use mobility devices. Hard surfaces have their pitfalls too: Tile floors become slippery when wet and are a hard landing if a senior falls at home. Ideal flooring options for an age-friendly home include low-pile carpeting, linoleum, and cork, but hardwood and luxury vinyl are also acceptable.
Of course, there are other things that make a house age-friendly, like grab bars in the bathrooms and levered door handles instead of knobs. However, since homeowners can easily add these accessibility features, they shouldn’t be a priority in your home search. By focusing on the most important aspects of age-friendly living, you can maximize your options and find a home that fits your lifestyle and your aging-in-place needs.
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Article by Jim Vogel with ElderAction.org