Richard Hayman, 67, and his wife Carolyn are shelling out $110,000 to complete a strategic part of their retirement plan. They aren’t purchasing a fixed annuity. They’re making their 1978 Rockville, Maryland, tract house a place where they can age gracefully. “We avoided nursing homes for our parents, and we want it to be the same for our kids,” says Hayman.
The Haymans’ desire to stay put — aging in place is the popular term — isn’t surprising. An AARP survey found that more than 80 percent of us want to stay in our homes as we grow old. And as boomers go, so goes the remodeling industry. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says since October, 2008, the number of members with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist designation (CAPS) has more than doubled, to 4,751.
What distinguishes the Haymans is that they’re proactively renovating so their house will be user-friendly and safe for their older bodies, something only 30% of remodelers do, according to a survey of CAPS contractors. “Most calls I get are for an emergency situation where someone needs an immediate remodel to accommodate an injury or illness,” says Louis Tenenbaum, an aging-in-place expert. “You can’t design, get permits and finish the construction in a short timeline so the person can get home fast.” That can mean time in a rehabilitation facility, or a move to assisted living, rather than being able to return home right away.
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