If you’re one of the millions of American baby boomers approaching their 70s, you may be asking if now is an opportunity to move and downsize to a smaller, more manageable home, or to stay put in your current home and repurpose any extra space vacated by adult children.
The answer depends on your unique circumstances, of course. But for those who decide to stay put — at least for the time being — now is a great time to begin considering which, if any, modifications your home may require to better suit your needs and ensure your safety as you get older.
Rather than waiting until an incident occurs, be proactive about making alterations to your home that will help you avoid potential injury. Likewise, take advantage of a broad spectrum of new technologies that can make your home easier to manage and provide an extra layer of security.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning to “age in place.”
Prioritize Your Wish List
Take a good look at the rooms in your house to determine which ones fit your new lifestyle and which ones need some work. Some areas of the home might only need minor changes. Others might need to be repurposed altogether. Take the time to create a general plan and prioritize the items on your list.
Focus on Improving Livability
Many empty nesters hire expert remodelers to adapt their home to make it easier to maintain. Stairs can sometimes become a problem, but moving the master bedroom and the laundry room to the ground floor can be part of a solution. Doing so can give home owners many more years in the home they love without a sense of urgency to move to a single-story home. Building professionals who have earned the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation have received training on how to build or renovate a home so that the occupants can live in it safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age.
Make Use of Technology
Everywhere you look these days, there is new technology. Why not put it to use in your house? Motion sensor light switches can illuminate a room as soon as you enter. They can also be connected with a home security and monitoring system, and could be configured to send help in the event of a fall or other accident. A smart refrigerator will notify you when you’re out of milk, or better yet, place an order to be delivered by your local grocer. A front door camera and microphone will allow you to see who is on your porch, even if you’re not there. If you can dream it up, there is likely a technology solution out there for it.
Expand Your Space
Depending on the age of your home, you may find that, for example, your master bedroom or bath is too small for comfort. Look for opportunities to expand those rooms into adjacent, unused or underutilized spaces. A remodeling professional is the best person to help you determine what your options are to build your dream master bathroom or bedroom. They can also help you find ways to create a more open floorplan that is easier to navigate for those with mobility concerns. Incorporating these changes will not only create a home that suits a changing lifestyle, they also may increase the value of your home when you eventually decide it’s time sell.