June 3rd, 2019
It’s a common mantra for a lot of seniors: living well means living comfortably at home.
But as people age, so do the houses they live in, and living space challenges can add to a homeowner’s physical challenges. One popular solution: remodel your loved one’s home to accommodate those challenges.
Though a major home remodel can cost thousands of dollars, it’s often less costly than senior living alternatives. Even a basic unit inside an assisted living facility can run in excess of $40,000 per year, so it may make sense on both a home comfort/safety and financial level to thoroughly examine the possibility of a home “facelift.”
The choice between moving or remodeling is never an easy one. But if you’re currently weighing your options then it sounds like you’re ready for some kind of change – so why not consider the one that will keep you in your home longer?
Perhaps your home no longer fits your family’s needs, or maybe it’s just not as functional. Sure, you could put your home up for sale, but a home renovation could make your home vital and livable again. Since you’ll want to make the choice that’s right for you or your loved one, here are some tips to help you decide.
*List Your Home-Improvement Necessities
But leave out anything that’s purely a cosmetic improvement.
*Estimate Your Home-Renovation Costs
Consult remodeling magazines, or contact a local contractor.
*Compare the Cost of Renovations to Living Alternatives
Include the net gains of selling your home, minus the cost of yearly assisted living fees.
*Weigh the Emotional Benefits
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: factor in both your physical and mental peace-of-mind.
Okay, you’ve sufficiently calculated everything and decided that a remodel is the best choice. Here are some top renovation suggestions for seniors, along with average costs:
Doorways that are narrower than 32 inches may need to be expanded to accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility device. Average cost: $400 to $600 each.
Install lever-style doorknobs
Because they don’t require a twisting motion, levers are usually easier to grip than round doorknobs. Average cost: $20 each for the do-it-yourselfer; more if you hire a handyman.
Add grab bars to bathrooms
Heavy bars for your bath tubs or shower stalls can help prevent falls. Average cost: $20 to $30 each for do-it-yourselfers; $100 each if professionally installed.
By replacing hard stone floors with softer materials, such as vinyl, linoleum, bamboo or cork, you can provide better traction. Average cost: $3 to $7 per square foot.
Even if no one in the home has an immediate need for a wheelchair, a ramp can make it easier to enter and exit the home. Average cost: $1,500.
Adjust kitchen countertops
Most regular countertops stand about 34 inches off the floor. Ones that are only 30 inches can make it easier for the wheelchair or scooter-bound to prepare food. Average cost: $5,000 per 30 linear feet of space.
Chair lifts or elevators
It only stands to reason that an elevator or chair lift that attaches to stairs will make life easier for anyone residing in a home with multiple levels. Average cost: chair lift, $3,000 to $4,000; elevator, $20,000 (or more).
While Medicare or private insurance may cover the cost of medical equipment that’s installed in a home, they generally don’t pay for home remodel projects. So, unfortunately, most expenses for home renovations will need to be paid out of pocket.
Some seniors may qualify for a limited number of home improvement grants, based on their income and where they live. The Department of Health and Human Services’ ElderCare.gov website has more details. Another (perhaps slightly less-attractive) option: tapping home equity with a mortgage refinance or home equity line of credit.