For many, home remodeling might seem like an optional luxury. Sure, a modern, updated bathroom or kitchen sounds nice, but is it really necessary? You might be surprised to hear that in many cases the answer is yes. More and more homeowners are choosing to remodel; not only for aesthetic purposes, but for improved functionality as they age. According to AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Among people, age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place. It makes perfect sense that if you’re planning on living out the rest of your life in your current home, structural changes should be made to accommodate your transition into your golden years.
As much as we hate to think about it, aging is inevitable. Things that might seem easy for you today – tasks as simple as turning a round doorknob or stepping over the edge of the bathtub – might be challenging for you several years from now. The best time to do renovation projects that will help you age comfortably in your home is when you don’t yet need those features. Putting it off until something happens could end up costing you more and become a much bigger hurdle than if it were done ahead of time.
While some aging in place updates are structural, such as replacing a shower-tub combo with a curb-less shower or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, there are many updates that can easily be done in one afternoon. Some of these potentially do-it-yourself projects include swapping out all round doorknobs for levers, installing sensor faucets, replacing the flooring with non-slip options, adding a pull-down seat in the shower, and installing a grab bars in the bathroom. These are small changes that might seem insignificant now, but you may appreciate having them later. Even an expensive project can be worth the investment if it prevents the need to relocate later on. This is especially true if you consider the high cost and emotional impact of moving into an assisted living center because your home is no longer suitable for your needs.
Another reason it’s better to remodel for aging in place now, if you anticipate a big-ticket renovation, is that qualifying for a home equity line of credit or home equity loan is typically easier when you are still working. If you wait until you only have retirement income, it may be harder to qualify for a loan. Also, if you are able to do so, financing a renovation now will allow you time to pay it off prior to retirement.