Use a Reverse Mortgage for Age in Place Remodeling
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November 29, 2017
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Use a Reverse Mortgage for Age in Place Remodeling

One question that many seniors face as they enter retirement is how they would like to address the possible need for long term care as they age. Although long-term care facilities are a necessity for some, many seniors will have the option to remain in their home and age in place. Staying at home allows seniors to remain in a comfortable and familiar place while staying close to family and friends. Aging in place can also save a significant amount of money over moving to an assisted living facility.  Despite the widespread consensus regarding the many benefits of seniors staying at home, the age in place remodeling that must be done in order to prepare the home can often feel like a challenging hurdle.

In order to comfortably age in place, most seniors will need to make modifications to their homes. Age in place remodeling can be broken down into the four categories below. The National Association of Home Builders recommends completing this checklist during age in place remodeling to ensure the home is equipped for its aging occupants.1

  1. Accessible Floorplan – A huge part of age in place remodeling is making the home accessible to someone in a wheelchair or using a walker. This means that the laundry, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and entry to the house should all be on the same level. If there is not a bedroom on the same floor as the kitchen, a living room, study or other spare room can be converted into one. Having the ability to live entirely on one floor of the home allows seniors to continue to live in their homes even if their mobility declines. The home should also have handrails on all stairs, as well as in the bathroom shower. There should be a walk in tub or shower and non-slip mats on slippery surfaces. Hallways and doorways should be least 3 feet wide and there should be open areas in each room to allow a wheelchair or walker to turn around.
  2. Low Maintenance Exterior – The exterior of the home should be as low maintenance as possible to prevent seniors from needing to maintain it themselves. Vinyl siding is recommended to avoid the need for repainting. Covers can be installed on the gutters to prevent them from getting clogged with debris that require the homeowner to go onto the roof to clear. The landscaping can be setup with an automatic watering system and landscaping choices should be made to reduce the need for mowing or weeding. Finally, there should be a ramp entry to allow easier home access via wheelchair or walker.
  3. Lever Style Doorknobs and Fixtures –  Even seniors with mild arthritis can have trouble opening turn knob style doors and fixtures. All faucets and door handles should be replaced with lever style handles during an age in place remodel for ease of use. This prevents seniors from experiencing discomfort and frustration while moving about the home or washing up.
  4. Accessible Appliances – Appliances should be accessible and easy to reach from a wheelchair or in a seated position. This may mean a special lowered counter space will need to be created for the kitchen appliances such as coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc. Other routine appliances such as clothes washing machines should also be considered. Front loading washing machines that are raised slightly can allow someone in a wheelchair or seated position to reach inside, and push button controls can make it easier for seniors who may have limited hand mobility.

While the above changes may be an uncomfortable expense for most retirement budgets, the cost of age in place remodeling can actually be quite affordable when compared to the cost of long term care facilities. The Network for studies on Pensions, Aging, and Retirement reports that assisted living facilities typically cost $77,000-$88,000 a year, while healthcare expenses outside of assisted living, such as home health and hospice services typically average $11,210 annually.2 By comparison, a report by home improvement website Fixr, which provides cost guides and comparisons for hundreds of remodeling, installation, and repair projects, estimates that the average cost of age in place remodeling is $9,000.3

If you wish to age in place and need to make renovations to your home, a reverse mortgage may be an option for converting your home equity into the funds you need. To learn more or request a free eligibility assessment, contact a licensed reverse mortgage loan advisor at 1 (800)976-6211 or click here  to fill out the online form.

Important Disclosures:
1 National Association of Home Buyers. Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist.

2 Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement. Medical Spending of the U.S. Elderly.

3 Fixr. Aging in Place Remodeling Cost.