While senior-specific housing has long been designed for the older population some are now finding that home remodeling is a more cost-effective strategy for aging in place, Bloomberg News reports.
About 90% of people want to stay in their homes as they grow old, according to AARP surveys, and “as boomers go, so goes the remodeling industry,” the Bloomberg article. Since October 2008, the number of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) members with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation has more than doubled to 4,751.
While some older couples are proactive in renovating their homes to make them user-friendly and safe for them as they age, says the article, they’re in the minority, as only about 30% of remodelors fall into this category.
“Most calls I get are for an emergency situation where someone needs an immediate remodel to accommodate an injury or illness,” Louis Tenenbaum, an aging-in-place expert, told Bloomberg. “You can’t design, get permits and finish the construction in a short timeline so the person can get home fast.”
When people put off those necessary renovations, the article says, the senior homeowner may end up spending time in a rehabilitation facility or moving into an assisted living community, rather than being able to return home right away following an incident.
While these sorts of projects may carry a hefty price tag, spending those dollars could potentially save money over time by preventing or delaying a move into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. In fact, a $10,000 aging-in-place project could essentially be “paid off” in about 3 months by avoiding average monthly assisted living community costs, according to Tenenbaum in a MetLife Mature Market Institute report on aging in place.
Suggested renovations and remodeling projects include replacing cabinet and drawer-pulls with easy-to-grip handles rather than knobs; raising key electrical outlets while lowering light switches to a wheel-chair accessible level; upgrade lighting in high-traffic areas such as hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens; and installing grab bars in bathrooms.
Written by Alyssa Gerace