Home modifications and repairs go a long way to help you live safely in your home. And according to an AARP survey, 77% Americans age 50 and older want to remain living in their current home for as long as possible.
To stay as safe and comfortable as possible in your home over time, follow these three home modification and repair tips:
1. Choose the right contractors, designers, and architects.
Professionals with an Aging in Place designation have been trained to adapt or create homes that are barrier-free, ergonomic, efficient, and safe for people as they age. Those with a Universal Design designation apply Aging in Place concepts to create products and environments that are attractive and usable by everyone, no matter their ability or age.
To make sure contractors, designers, and architects are a good fit for your needs, ask them to provide:
- Experience and approach to modifications for aging
- List of references
- Typical work hours and clean up processes
- Expectations of you (e.g., what you need to do before they start)
Focus on possibilities: Change can be hard. But redesigning or reconfiguring your home is an opportunity to design a space you’ve always wanted — an opportunity to turn “we’ll remodel that room someday” into “let’s do that today!”
2. Compare and contrast your options.
An abundance of home modification and repair products and solutions claim to be the “best” solution for people as they age. Don’t be swayed. Make a list of the good and not-so-good features of each product and consider how they may affect you.
For example, one woman was talked into a walk-in tub with a door. She didn’t think about how chilly she would get as she sat in the tub wet, waiting for the water to drain before she could open the door and step out. This also created a problem when a smoke alarm went off and she was not able to step over the tub and quickly evacuate her home. (Fortunately, it was a false alarm and was not harmed.)
3. Put a plan in place.
It may take a while to find a contractor, designer, or architect that is the right fit for you. And when you do, their next availability may be months out.
If possible, obtain a few different quotes to ensure you have options and can budget your finances accordingly. If you need to make modifications in stages, prioritize the modifications and repairs that are needed most to ensure your home is safe, comfortable, and accessible as you age.
Act on it: Don’t wait until a time of crisis to make necessary modifications and repairs to your home. Start the process now to maximize your options and opportunities.
You can also use this TroveStreet home repair and modification checklist to make sure your home is safe and comfortable now — and in the years to come:
- Ensure amenities (bedroom, full bathroom, and laundry) are located on the first floor.
- Have at least one “no step” entry into the home.
- Widen doorways to 36 inches to accommodate a wheelchair, if needed.
- Change light switches and door handles to age-friendly options.
- Install safety bars in the bath and kitchen (a variety of styles and finishes are available, but place and install bars correctly)
- Arrange furniture in a way that allows for clear walking paths, free from trip hazards.
- Fix leaking roofs or replace older roofs.
- Ensure flooring and carpeting are glued down.
- Repaint cracking surfaces.
- Sand chipped wood spots or nail down porch/deck planks.
- Fix broken handles and winterize windows.
- Replace damaged light fixtures.
If finances are a concern, there are local resources that may be able to help:
York County Planning Commission offers funding and grants to assist with home improvements, weatherization, heating, and rehabilitation. Contact 717.771.9870 for details.
Servants, Inc. provides critical home repair services to under-resourced older adults and disabled homeowners. Contact 717.378.0336 for details.
A Note About Property Taxes
Rising homeowner taxes can make a huge difference on your aging experience if you plan to stay in your home. If property taxes are a burden for you, check to see if your local school district offers a program to earn tax credits in exchange for volunteer hours. If you think you are paying too much in taxes, you can also appeal. Learn more.
TroveStreet is Here to Help
Take advantage of our free TroveStreet Planning Tool, which you can access directly in your dashboard or download as a PDF. Want someone to walk you through it? Sign up for our Aging Navigation & Plan Creation package and a TroveStreet navigator will be by your side through the process.