One of the biggest sources of injury for seniors is a fall, which can be caused by any number of things, but usually occurs in a home with stairs or unstable surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen. Flooring is a big factor here, and you’ll want to remove any trip hazards such as clutter or throw rugs. In the kitchen and bathroom -- where there’s usually tile or linoleum -- place thin, rubber-backed non-slip mats throughout to help you maintain your balance. It’s also a good idea to add grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and in the shower.
Moving the master bedroom to the main floor is a great way to eliminate the need to go up and down stairs regularly if you have a two-story home. You can also widen doorways, increase lighting in dark hallways, lower countertops in your kitchen and add a curbless entry shower to your bathroom.
Look for funding
Certain home modifications like widening doorways and lowering kitchen countertops require the work of professionals, which means finding funds to cover those costs. You can turn to retirement savings, but if those funds are limited, you have other options. For example, you could consider a cash out refinance. This choice allows you to tap into some of your home’s equity by replacing your current mortgage with a new loan, giving you access to funds you can put toward home improvements. In fact, if you’re a veteran, a VA refinance cash out can be a great way to refinance with even lower rates and low out-of-pocket costs to close. If refinancing isn’t in the cards, there are also many grants for seniors, veterans and disabled individuals.
Consider a move
In some cases, making modifications may be more trouble than they're worth, with a move to a smaller home being the better choice. You may have lived in your current home for many years, and it will be difficult to think of moving away from all those memories; however, if it isn’t equipped to handle aging-in-place, it’s the best choice if you plan to remain independent and at home. Selling and buying at the same time will require some savvy and a great real estate agent to guide you along the way. Be sure to survey the market to understand how competitive it is and what the average home sells for. In Overland Park, for instance, the market is fairly competitive, and over the last month, homes have sold for an average of $328K.
Whatever you decide to do, remember, your home should be a place of comfort and safety at all times. Whether it’s in the bathroom, where grab bars and a shower seat can help prevent falls in the tub, or in the living room where you’ve changed the flooring, make your house work for you. Talk to your loved ones so they can help you along the way with modifications, and ask for help from pros when you need it. The goal is to create the ideal space so that you can get the maximum benefit.
This post was shared with permission by Claire Wentz of Caring from Afar, Photo by Reshot - Claire Wentz, June 01, 2020
LPL Financial is not affiliated with and does not endorse the comments and opinions of Claire Wentz. This article is provided as a courtesy for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation to take a particular course of action. Please consult with a financial professional regarding your personal situation prior to making any financial related decisions. (06/20)