Financial Education

Home Updates That Can Help You Stay Put

People nearing and in retirement usually want to stay in their own homes as they age. Nearly three-quarters of respondents to an AARP survey of people age 45 and older strongly agreed that they'd like to stay in their current residence for as long as possible.* And those 65+ were even more likely to answer that way.

However, aging tends to bring increasing physical limitations that can complicate plans to stay put. Here are ideas for modifying your home to help you remain safe and independent.

Remove entrance barriers. Replace thresholds with spring-loaded drop-down door bottoms to eliminate a tripping hazard and allow walkers and wheelchairs easier access. Widen doorways that are narrower than 36 inches, or install offset pivot hinges on doors that allow them to open entirely out of the door frame.

Build safety into the bathroom. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found two-thirds of injuries in the bathroom happen in a shower or tub.** To reduce the risk, add non-slip surfaces and grab bars both inside and outside the shower or tub. Install a curbless walk-in shower, and replace the shower head with a hand-held one that can be used standing or seated. Install an elevated toilet.

Cook up a user-friendly kitchen. Install countertops at different heights, and leave space beneath a lower countertop open to allow wheelchair access. A cabinet on wheels that fits underneath and can be easily rolled out of the way adds more storage space. A faucet installed on the side of the sink may be easier to reach than one at the back. Look for faucets with lever handles. Reorganize storage space with pop-up shelves, lazy susans and pull-out racks.

Use Your Home Equity

Many home updates can be done on a relatively modest budget. If you find your home needs more extensive remodeling, see Chaco Credit Union for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Easy financing can help you enjoy your home sweet home for years to come.

* Source: AARP, "Home and Community Preferences of the 45+ Population," November 2010, www.aarp.org.

** Source: Department of Health and Human Services, HHS HealthBeat June 24, 2011, www.hhs.gov.

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