Three things every senior should consider when evaluating their housing situation
Many shopping for a new home prioritize the proximity of their home to schools and parks for their children. They are drawn to large yards where they can set up a playset and treehouse. Large kitchens, extra bedrooms, and oversized living spaces are almost always top of the list for those raising a family.
Seniors, on the other hand, find themselves in a different season of life. The very things that may have attracted them to their home in the beginning can become burdensome with time. That large yard is now an overwhelming chore, and the extra square footage represents tiresome vacuuming and dusting in rooms that are rarely used. The front porch steps may have become harder to climb, and the attic storage is no longer safely accessible.
Many feel they are at a crossroads. Moving out of the family home can be wrought with emotion; but staying in the home and aging in place, can also bring significant challenges. Should you move or modify? Here is a few things to consider before final plans are made.
Consider the future
Will your next 10 years look like your previous 10 years? Not likely. The hard truth is, time brings aging, and aging brings new barriers to mobility and health. Statistically, 69% of those who are over the age of 65 will require some sort of Long Term Care Nursing in their lifetime, that equates to 7 out of 10 people in that age bracket. When you consider the likelihood of future care needs, you must also ask yourself if you are prepared to modify your family home to accommodate all that may be required during this stage of life. For example, a full bathroom remodel, widening all doorframes, installing ramps, non-slip flooring, lifts, installing specialized alarms or even lowering countertops. Are you also able to modify your processes for caring for the home if you are unable to fulfill these duties yourself? Who will manage and monitor the lawn care, housekeeping, and various home repairs? Most importantly, who will manage and monitor any hired caregivers that come and go from your home if you are unable to effectively do so yourself?
Meanwhile, many are turning to Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) for a simple solution for the future. These communities allow the senior to enter the community in an Independent Living, maintenance free, apartment with priority access to future care needs should they arise. Care services like Assisted Living, Memory Support or Skilled Nursing are often on the same campus as the Independent Living in order to make the transition smooth. The move to a community like this is a downsize in square footage for most, but it comes with a well vetted team of professionals to handle home repairs, housekeeping and landscaping, plus a highly accountable care team for the future.
Consider the cost
The cost of modifying a family home can vary depending on how much is required to keep you successful in your home. From spending only a few hundred dollars to install grab bars, to spending thousands of dollars on a full bathroom remodel, the total investment is largely based on how your
needs may grow. The often overlooked expense of modifying the home is the toll these “updates” can take on the resale of the home. While these customizations were highly valuable to you, they are not likely to be as valuable to the home buyer. For example, the ramp on the front porch and the handrails down the hallway will likely discourage buyers all together, or influence incredibly low offers. The buyer looks at each of your modifications as big dollar signs on the things he/she will need to undo.
However, moving into a CCRC isn’t cheap either. Many CCRC’s require an Entrance Fee to join their
community which may be a similar cost of a home value. While up to 90% of this fee is typically
refundable, the initial cost can put a dent in your savings. That’s why many choose to use the proceeds
from the sale of their home to pay this one-time, mostly refundable fee. Additionally, living in one of
these all-inclusive communities comes with monthly fees as well. These fees can mount up to several
thousand dollars each month. While this is something to get used to after owning your own home,
many find the worry-free nature of services to be well worth the cost. This fee typically covers, all home
maintenance, some meals, and housekeeping, along with access to life enriching programs and
amenities. Life in a CCRC also means no more property taxes, home owners insurance, or HOA dues.
Additionally, you might find that selling your home now, before you’ve made the many modifications,
could yield a better purchasing price.
Consider your personal wellness
Where you live will play a huge role in your overall wellness and in your longevity. It’s been proven that the impact of aging can be greatly reduced in those who are socially engaged, intellectually stimulated, emotionally balanced, physically active, spiritually content and occupationally fulfilled- they live longer, happier lives. Modifying the family home may leave you isolated and lonely when driving becomes an issue or when mobility changes. Seniors who live in their own home have far fewer daily interactions with others compared to those living in a retirement community, and far less opportunities to stay busy. If you choose to stay in your home, you will need to monitor your well-being closely in each of these areas to minimize physical or cognitive decline. However, with access to fitness classes, well-balanced meals, social clubs and faith-based groups, those living in a senior living community are set up with all they need to thrive, just outside their door.
So, should you modify or move? When you fully consider the future, the costs and your own personal wellness, you’ll be sure the make the right choice for you.