You can add wheelchair lifts, roll in showers, walk in bathtubs, kitchen lifts and other accessibility products to any home. However, seniors who plan for aging in place early on will be better prepared and have more options than those who wait until there is an emergency or sudden need for accessibility in their home. 90% of Americans over 65 want to remain in their homes as they age, rather than move to assisted living.
Many factors can influence your decision to renovate your current home or move to a more suitable home. Even if you move, you will likely still need to do renovations in your new place, but those renovations may be less costly, depending on the overall layout of the house. Here are some factors to consider in your decision:
Layout of the House - The ideal house design for aging in place is a single level home on a flat lot. A multi-story home could work if there is already a main floor bedroom and full bathroom, or if those rooms can be added easily. Houses with multiple floors with vital rooms on upper floors only may not be the best set up for creating accessibility and would be costly to renovate.
Location – Access to grocery shopping, medical and emergency services and other community services will be more important as you age. Proximity to other support resources, like family members and friends, religious community, and social clubs will be important. When seniors are too isolated and it's difficult to get out, they can become depressed and lonely.
Cost comparisons – Be sure to research all costs involved in renovations. Research immediate project requirements and likely future renovations that will be needed to accommodate changing needs. Compare all renovations costs with the possibility of moving to get a practical idea of which option is more affordable. A move involves a lump sum cost, where renovations could be paid for as you go. Remember that even if you decide to move, the new home willl likely require some renovations also, so make sure to include those costs in your comparisons.
Significant reasons to stay – if you are considering accessibility for your aging parents, but have kids in school or you are close to work or other relatives, then moving may not be the best option right now, unless you can find a more suitable house in the same neighborhood.
Long term planning- You may not need a wheelchair lift or roll in shower right now, but iit's important to consider possible health issue that may develop. If you plan on living at home and want to stay independent for as long as possible, it’s important to consider possible changing needs in the future, not just for yourself and your partner, but also for visiting family and friends or aging relatives who may need to move in.