About 90% of people want to stay in their homes as they grow old, according to AARP surveys, and “as boomers go, so goes the remodeling industry,” says a recent Bloomberg article. Since October 2008, the number of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) members with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation has more than doubled to 4,751.
While some older couples are proactive in renovating their homes to make them user-friendly and safe for them as they age, says the article, they’re in the minority, as only about 30% of remodelors fall into this category.
“Most calls I get are for an emergency situation where someone needs an immediate remodel to accommodate an injury or illness,” Louis Tenenbaum, an aging-in-place expert, told Bloomberg. “You can’t design, get permits and finish the construction in a short timeline so the person can get home fast.”
When people put off those necessary renovations, the article says, the senior homeowner may end up spending time in a rehabilitation facility or moving into an assisted living community, rather than being able to return home right away following an incident.
While these sorts of projects may carry a hefty price tag, spending those dollars could potentially save money over time by preventing or delaying a move into an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. In fact, a $10,000 aging-in-place project could essentially be “paid off” in about 3 months by avoiding average monthly assisted living community costs, according to Tenenbaum in a MetLife Mature Market Institute report on aging in place.
Suggested renovations and remodeling projects include replacing cabinet and drawer-pulls with easy-to-grip handles rather than knobs; raising key electrical outlets while lowering light switches to a wheel-chair accessible level; upgrade lighting in high-traffic areas such as hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens; and installing grab bars in bathrooms.