The nest has been empty for some time, and as you get older you have to ask yourself if you are you ready to finally take the plunge on your senior downsize? Most older adults know they will have to disencumber and downsize eventually, but they often put it off since it is such a daunting task. However, moving sooner rather than later gives you the time and flexibility you need to find the right home and settle in.
This post explains what to look for when buying your downsized home and how you can make sure your next home is your “forever home” and one where you can age-in-place.
Finding the Right Home for Senior Living
For seniors, downsizing involves more than shrinking their square footage. When looking for a downsized home, seniors are also searching for a house that offers convenience and accessibility for senior living. That means features such as:
- Proximity to shopping, healthcare, and public transportation.
- A safe, walkable community.
- Level covered parking.
- No stairs, Single Story.
- Wide doorways and hallways or an open floor plan.
- No high-pile carpeting or slick tile floors.
- Ample lighting, especially natural light.
- Elevated kitchen and laundry appliances.
- Two-level kitchen counters.
- Roll-in showers.
It is hard to find a home that checks every box, so it is critical that older home buyers work with real estate agents who understand their needs and specializes in finding homes that are more appropriate for seniors or near-seniors. An agent who is certified as a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) is the best choice, but if it is not possible to hire an SRES, interview agents to assess their experience working with senior home buyers.
Preparing Your New Home for Senior Living
The features listed above cover the priority items seniors need for the downsizing plans and in their home, but it is not everything that makes a house safe, secure, and age-friendly. Below are some common changes seniors need to make when moving to a new home.
Your goal when buying a home is to avoid properties that need major remodeling, but that does not mean you can escape all home improvements. There are a lot of little changes that improve a senior’s comfort, convenience, and safety at home, with a total remodel such as:
- Replacing traditional light switches with rocker switches.
- Replacing door and cabinet knobs with levers and pulls.
- Installing grab bars in bathrooms (showers / toilets).
- Installing task lighting / motion lighting
- Building a parcel bench near the main entrance.
- Automating home functions like lights and locks with smart technology.
Depending on your health and/or skill level, you may want to complete these improvements before moving in or budget for them one at a time. If you want to tackle renovations before move-in but your home is already sold, book a vacation rental for a short-term housing solution. You can even rent a property near activities you would enjoy and make a “mini staycation” out of it. As Turnkey reminds, Austin (and most cities), have plenty to keep you busy, from the area’s many gorgeous lakes to sporting events at the University of Texas to great restaurants to scenic walkways. What you do is totally up to you.
Time outdoors is great for seniors’ well-being, but most older adults are not up for the routine task of maintaining a lawn and garden. That is not a problem if you are considering an assisted living facility or 55-plus community where the grounds are maintained by staff. However, if have decided to purchase a home, you will most likely want to budget and hire a landscape designer to create an accessible outdoor space where you can sit, stroll, and even garden in raised beds. If you are working with a sloped lawn, consider grading it to improve accessibility. In Austin, you costs run between $1,157 and $2,837 depending on the size and scope of the project.
Aging-in-place seniors may still need an extra hand at home. Even if you are getting along fine today, you may need assistance with housekeeping or home healthcare in the future. Start thinking about how you pay for the care you need so you’re prepared when the time comes. Depending on your needs, in-home care could cost $150 per day / $750 per week if you decide to you a private duty agency, as their average rate is $27 per hour with usually a 4 hour minimum. If you decide to hire a caregiver yourself and use a service like Well Beyond Care, with no minimums, you could reduce your daily / weekly spend to $30 per and $100 per week. Saving from $10,000 to $30,000 per year in care costs.
The decision to downsize is never an easy one, but for most seniors, it usually the right one. In a smaller, more accessible home, you can enjoy your senior years without being burdened by upkeep or a home you do not feel safe living in. Downsizing can be a lengthy process, however. Between searching for the right home, renovating to make it move-in ready, and packing up the old house, a senior’s downsizing may take a year or more from start to finish. Rather than putting it off, start taking the first steps toward your senior downsize today.
There are more and more companies and individuals out there to to help seniros and families with downsizing. These companies offer plans and checklists to ease the transition from one home to another. Companies like Downsize My Home, offer advice and guidance, as well as resources to make the process of downsizing as smooth and pain-free as possible.
Image via Unsplash
About the Author
Mike Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place as a contributor to Elder Freedom. He is also an expert on topics like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, and the benefits of aging in place to name a few.
About Well Beyond Care
Well Beyond Care is the only company that teaches families and individuals how to find and manage affordable non-medical in-home care, while solving the chronic problems of caregiver truancy and turnover through the web application, WellBeyondCare.com. The Company’s platform combines the power of the internet with the personal touch of nurses to offer families a pathway to transitional care, allowing our elderly parents to safely age-in-place. Their solution lowers stress in hiring a caregiver and saves families tens of thousands of dollars per year in care costs.