Have your mindset on staying in your own home as long as possible? The time is now to consider what kinds of updates and remodeling projects it will require. Aging in place is the goal of many seniors that own or live in their own homes and the thought of having to leave it due to mobility or medical issues can be frightening. Talk to a reputable contractor about aging-in-place remodeling plans that you can begin now.
The benefits of aging in place are compelling; here are a few:
- Cost: Nursing homes are expensive – it can be far less financially burdensome to stay in your own home. Many seniors own their homes and don’t have hefty mortgages or rents to pay, which makes it a prudent fiscal approach to aging.
- Comfort: If you ask, most people will say that their home is comfortable. That is, the familiarity of home can be very cathartic and therapeutic for seniors.
- Cognition: Studies show that seniors can experience loss of memory and exacerbated signs of dementia when moved into a new, unfamiliar environment. The stress can worsen and progress memory loss.
- Autonomy: Many people feel that they will have more control over day-to-day decisions if they stay in their own home. It supports a feeling of independence and freedom.
An aging-in-place contractor can help you evaluate the amount of work that will be needed to prepare for seniors or those with physical limitations. They can help prioritize projects to fit your schedule, budget, and needs.
Steps to Handle an Aging in Place Remodeling Project
Remodeling the home to accommodate aging in place is no small task. For this reason, it makes sense to break it down into manageable steps for both you and your contractors.
Step one: Develop your house plan
The first thing to do is to make a plan. Maybe your home only needs very minor upgrades, or it could require major projects to accommodate a disability or mobility issue. Make a plan – write it out – and figure out what the most important tasks are on the list. It could include items such as widening doorways, adding handrails, lowering counters, and putting new door hardware in that makes opening doors easier. This is what you will share with the contractor that you ultimately hire for your aging-in-place remodel – but more on that later!
Step two: Establish a budget
Think about your projects: what is your budget? Be realistic, and consider the price of things like new fixtures, furnishings, and supplies, but don’t forget about the labor costs. If your funding comes up short, consider making a plan with your contractor to do the work over a period of time, prioritizing those renovations that are most necessary.
Get accurate pricing from mobility retail professionals for equipment that will increase the home’s accessibility for those with mobility issues now or later. From grab bars to stairlifts, mobility aids have come a long way over the years. When shopping for mobility equipment, like ramps or lifts, always try to look toward future needs, as this will best prepare the home for aging in place.
Step three: Apply for programs and funding
Fortunately, there are many programs and grants available for modifying homes to bring them up to par for seniors or individuals living with mobility issues. Check out the Section 504 Home Repair program, which provides money to seniors and low-income families to make repairs to their homes. These funds are intended for improving or updating the home as well as eliminating any health or safety risks on the property. Some recipients have been able to receive thousands of dollars for their aging-in-place home repairs.
Step four: Find a qualified contractor
This is the time to find an aging-in-place contractor with experience in accessibility remodels. It is important that you both have the same goal in mind, as well as the same understanding of sensitive issues related to these projects. Seniors deserve these projects completed in a timely manner, in a way that is as non-intrusive as possible, ideally.
Some tips to find a qualified contractor include these:
- Draft your own remodeling plan to show to prospective contractors to best determine if you are both on the same page and whether they are the best candidate for the job.
- Ask around for recommendations for reputable contractors from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors- anyone who owns a home. This can help narrow the field and point you in the right direction.
- Make sure to check licensing to validate and confirm the credentials and qualifications of your contractor.
- You may want to visit former or current job sites to see how things appear to be progressing. This is a good strategy for your short-list of prospective contractors.
- Put everything in writing, from prices of materials to labor rates. Keep messages and emails that document ongoing conversations regarding projects.
Visit online consumer forums and sites to read through reviews and evaluate ratings for contractors in your area. This can often provide some great insights.
Step five: Begin the remodel!
So, now that you have hired your contractors, let the work begin! This is not the time to get complacent: make sure that you are keeping tabs on what is being accomplished. If it looks like the work is going to take a while, which should be determined early on. Plan on moving out of the home for a while. The stress of living in a construction zone for a prolonged period can take a toll on anyone, including seniors. Rent an Airbnb for a month if need be.
Ready to build?
People are living much longer these days. And many are choosing to spend that time in their own home environment, as opposed to skilled nursing or communal living situations. Where do you want to live when you are older? Aging in place is a viable concept that should be considered early enough to make the necessary plans, adjustments, and renovations feasible. Consider some simple or more complex fixes around your home. Changes that would support the aging in place of you or someone you love. Talk to an aging-in-place contractor to learn more!