Aging in Place

You have a lot of options when it comes to deciding where you’re going to spend your golden years.

No matter what you decide, you need to make sure your home is accessible as you age—even if you’re young now, it’s never too early to plan. We’ve heard of people in their 40s starting to make home improvements to help them age in their home.

The nice thing about doing it now is that most of the improvements are actually features you can enjoy at any age.

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Ditch the front steps

Stairs are probably one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to aging in place.

That long staircase up to the front porch looks beautiful and majestic right now. But over the years it might start to look more and more like Mt. Everest—especially when you’re also carrying in the groceries or when it’s icy out.

Move downstairs

Think about your daily routine. If stairs become a problem for you, do you really want to have to climb them twice a day?

Try creating a master suite on the first floor and leaving the second floor bedrooms for guests.

And why not use it as an opportunity to upgrade your suite? French doors that open to the yard or screened in porch wouldn’t be terrible to live with.

Ditch the curb

Even if you have a walk-in shower, that tiny curb under the door can become a barrier as you get older.

Retrofit with a zero-clearance tub so there’s no annoying little curb to step over. Don’t forget to add a built-in seat in the corner and a handheld showerhead.

Get an alarm system

It doesn’t matter if you still practice Jiu Jitsu, whether you’re an ex-army sniper with a concealed weapon permit, or just a general bada$$. Criminals tend to target the elderly.

So give yourself an extra layer of protection with a home security system. Plus, you’ll probably be able to get a discount on your homeowners insurance—and that money can go to our next improvement suggestion.

Levers instead of knobs and flip switches

Replace your old doorknobs with levers and add rocker light switches. They’re both easier to use.

Even if your hands are full, you can still work them with your elbow. And if you’re hanging on to your old knobs because they’re decorative or antique, you can always mount them on the wall by the door and use them to hang your coats and hats on.

Widen the hallways and doorways

Wider halls and doorways leave more room if you ever need to use a wheelchair or scooter.

And—let’s be honest—wide hallways are nice for everyone. They feel airier and no more knocking into the walls when you’re carrying the laundry.     

Elevator or chair lift

It might not make sense to move your main living area to the first floor. In that case you might consider adding an elevator or a chair lift.

This isn’t going to come cheap. An elevator can cost up to $40,000 to install, plus you’ll need to maintain it. But if your laundry room, kitchen, and bedroom are all on the top floor—or if you have a split-level home—it might make a lot more sense than moving everything downstairs.

If an elevator or chairlift is going to improve your quality of life, think about taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay for it.