The vast majority of older Americans want to remain in their homes as they grow older, also known as aging in place. The American Bankers Association offers the following tips for older Americans considering this option:
Take a hard look at your finances.
Arrange a meeting with a trusted family member or friend and a banker. It’s critical to understand your financial resources, how long they’ll last and what housing options are the most cost effective for you. Be sure to consider all costs associated with aging in place, including:
- Home modifications, home insurance and property taxes.
- Transportation to medical appointments, shopping and other errands.
- In-home caregiver for house upkeep and medical purposes.
Consider a reverse mortgage.
Though not for everyone, a reverse mortgage loan can provide monthly cash payments based on your home’s equity.
- Shop around. Be sure to check with multiple lenders.
- Make sure to read all loan documents carefully. There are a number of actions that could cause the loan to become due. For more information on reverse mortgages, visit aba.com/consumers.
Assess your home and determine what modifications are necessary.
While staying in your home is preferable for many, there are often design changes that must be made to ensure it’s also safe and comfortable.
- Make sure there is at least one step-free entrance to your home.
- Update lighting inside and outside of the house so that all walkways and stairs are well lit.
- Clear pathways throughout house and firmly secure all carpets to the floor to prevent tripping.
- If a bedroom and bathroom does not or cannot exist on the first floor, consider installing an elevator or chairlift. At a minimum, make sure you have handrails on both sides of your stairs.
- Install grab bars in the bathtub, shower or near the toilet.
Make security a priority.
Older Americans are often targets for scams and other criminal behavior. Be cautious about whom you allow in your home and disclose sensitive information to.
- Install up-to-date and easy-to-use locks. Make sure your front door has a peephole or a security monitor so you can see who is outside.
- Be prepared for possible emergencies.
- Keep a list of all emergency contacts on your refrigerator or by a phone.
- Have your address number visible from the street so emergency responders can easily identify your home.
Reevaluate every six months to make sure all needs are being met.
- As you age, your needs inevitably change. Take time twice a year, or as needed, to sit down with your trusted family or friend and make sure your current living situation is still the right one. ∞