Aging in (Your) Place

With an estimated 11,000 North Americans turning 65 every day, it’s safe to assume that more and more conversations are turning to housing considerations that will accommodate the aging population.

As baby boomers approach and then reach their magical retirement age, a number that fluctuates dramatically depending on individual health and financial status, they’re starting to view their living arrangements through a different lense.

Is it time to downsize from a bigger house to one with fewer stairs, or perhaps into a condo? Or from a condo in a family building to another condo in a different area, with amenities more suited to your changing needs and interests? Should you sell your existing home and move into a retirement home? Or should you stay in your existing home and renovate it to allow you to age in place?

Aging in place refers to staying in the home of your choice, for as long as you are able to. This involves looking at your home with a critical eye, starting with the practicality of simply getting in and out of your front door easily and safely. Consider if the existing structure can be modified, and if so, if the cost and upheaval resulting from the renovations would even be worthwhile.

Here are some projects to consider, whether it makes sense to implement them in your existing home, look for them in a new home, or apply them in a new, downsized property:

  • Move the master bedroom to the first floor.
  • Add a bathroom to the first floor.
  • Add grab bars in the bathroom, along with a bench in the shower, and a higher toilet or an elevated toilet seat. A walk-in tub may also be an option.
  • Widen doors to allow for walkers and wheelchairs. Also consider width of hallways.
  • Replace stone/tile with carpet/wood.
  • For properties with stairs, install a lift chair/ stair glide system.
  • Add lever-style doorknobs.
  • Include more automation in the home, from a programmable or voice-activated lighting system and thermostat to smart fire detection and security systems. Install doorbells, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms that turn on lights when they’re activated, in case you don’t hear the alarms go off.
  • Modify storage with pull-out shelves, also referred to as roll-out, glide-out or slide-out shelves, that allow easier access to deeper spaces for clothing, food and other belongings.
  • Add extra lighting for increased visibility and security.

Of course, the outside of your home should take into account any current or possible future mobility issues, from the width of the front door, to the stairs going from the entrance to the street, to the need for railings and ramps, to the condition of the concrete or ground surface and accessibility to transportation from there.

If you can’t remodel your current home to allow you to age in place safely and comfortably, or if the cost and process of renovating to get to that point is prohibitive, it may be time to move. When discussing your decision with your real estate sales representative, be sure to be clear about your wants and needs for your next home.

Remember, for every homeowner needing to downsize, there’s a new family anxious to fill those rooms with another generation’s worth of adventures and memories. #cbrmr

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