According to experts, these are the factors you should consider if you want to age gracefully in retirement.
Home is the best place to be, especially as you get older.
According to AARP, 77% of adults over 50 want to remain in their homes for long.
However, many people are delaying the home upgrades and improvements required to make that happen.
According to Carol Chiang, CEO of Evolving Homes, a business that offers individualized counseling for people and families who want to age in place, “People might say,’I want oh, that’s what I’m already doing.”
However, they aren’t thinking, “Well, what does that mean?” said Chiang.
Clients of Chiang typically fall into one of three categories: those with a neurodegenerative condition like Parkinson’s disease, those who are proactive adults making plans for the future, or those in urgent need after experiencing their first fall or another emergency.
According to Chiang, those in the latter group are the ones who are aware that if they disregard something on the front end, they will pay twice as much there. I wish that everyone behaved that way.
Personal finance in more detail:
How a beach city is assisting locals in aging
When you pass away, what happens to your Social Security benefits?
62% of adults over 50 have yet to retire with the aid of a professional.
Recently, Carolyn McClanahan, a doctor and certified financial planner who assists patients in saving money for retirement, decided to enlist Chiang’s assistance for her own home.
Because she and her husband don’t have children, they wanted an early head start on planning for their later years. McClanahan said, “She made us think through what an aging-friendly bathroom would look like.”
CNBC FA Council member McClanahan states, “People typically remodel their homes every 10, 15, or 20 years. “Therefore, it does get easier to stay home as you get older if you remodel it, especially in your 50s and 60s.
According to experts, the price of the upgrades required to age in place can vary. Chiang claimed that in Florida, where she practices, she has observed price variations for bathroom upgrades.
Curt Kiriu, an aging-in-place specialist and president of CK Independent Living Builders in Mililani, Hawaii, also said costs can vary based on location. While Kiriu does most of his work on Oahu, neighboring islands may need help finding cost-adequate access to materials and contractors.
A home remodel for aging in place may range from 30, 000 on the low end to 80, 000, according to Chiang, depending on the project’s scope and where you live.
“At a very, very basic level, thinking about a remodel, you should be planning for at least$ 70, 000”, Chiang said.
Five caregiving terms to help you access essential services and reduce expenses for an aging parentWATCH NOW
Five caregiving terms to help you access essential services and reduce expenses for an aging parent
The upside is that it is a one-time cost to fix up a home, notes Kiriu. In comparison, the annual national median cost for a private room in a nursing home is around 108, 000, according to Genworth.
The upgrades can also significantly increase the value of your home, according to Chiang. Some estimates point to universal design features— such as wide doorways and hallways and no-step entry— adding up to 30% to the value of a home, she said.
Home upgrades to support more effortless mobility. It can often be thought of as necessary only for older residents.
But certain circumstances— such as babies with strollers or a child who breaks their leg skiing— can spur an immediate demand for easy accessibility in the home, Chiang noted.
“My recommendation is usually that people should start thinking about aging in place when they buy their first house”, Chiang said.
She advised that when making upgrades to a home, think about function, not just design. She said that having access to your house that doesn’t require stairs or a shower that’s easy to get into can make your life easier.
Those changes can benefit the following residents even if they don’t stay home.
“You’re helping other people who also might need those kinds of spaces”, Chiang said.
Think beyond the bathroom.
The mid-adult woman helps her senior adult friend carefully enter her home.
Sdi Productions| E+| Getty Images
When people want to make their homes more accessible, the first place they typically think of is the bathroom, according to Kiriu.
“But the truth is, you need an accessible entry first because if you can’t get in your house, what’s inside doesn’t really matter,” Kiriu said.
To know the specific changes you might need, consider enlisting professional help. That may be from a certified aging-in-place specialist, or CAPS, through the National Association of Home Builders, or an occupational or physical therapist.
Kiriu, who holds the CAPS designation, said he typically evaluates by watching someone walk in their home to see where they may have difficulty. If there are rub marks where they often touch the wall for support, that is where he may install a grab bar or other support.
“It’s kind of like detective work when you assess someone’s home, to see where they put their hands to stabilize themselves”, Kiriu said.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Weekly advice on managing your money
SIGN UP NOW
Get this delivered to your inbox, and learn more about our products and services.
He said that removing a bathtub and installing a curbless shower can help provide full access into and out of the shower.
Exactly how much a bathroom or other home upgrade will cost can vary, Kiriu said. For example, when gutting an entire bathroom, you may find water rot or termite damage that can make the work needed more extensive. That also goes for older homes that may need additional work to bring plumbing or electrical wiring up to code.
Even before enlisting professional help, there’s another step homeowners can take to make their homes more accessible and safer: Get rid of excess clutter, said Thomas West, senior partner at Signature Estate and Investment Advisors in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
“Somebody’s going to have to get rid of it sooner or later anyway”, West said.
Have a contingency plan.
Happy young female caregiver or healthcare worker visiting senior man indoors at home, talking and smiling.
Halfpoint Images| Moment| Getty Images
Home upgrades are not the only adjustment you need to age in place. Experts say it would help if you also had a financial plan.
“I tell people, as soon as you think of it, start planning for it”, said McClanahan. “Make sure you understand the logistics and costs”.
Much of the care expenses and adjustments to your home you will need will depend on your condition.
Because your physical circumstances can change, it also helps to have a contingency plan for when it no longer makes sense to stay in your home, McClanahan said.
There can be break-even points to use as a guide. For example, transferring to an assisted living facility will likely be cheaper if you need more than six hours a day of in-home care.
The costs of care may also vary by location.
Chiang said she advises creating a backup plan by visiting local care communities and making a list of several you like if you need additional care.
“I always tell people you don’t have to have an answer”, Chiang said. “But you have to have a general idea of a plan”.