Seniors who are preparing for retirement are usually faced with a dilemma: is it better to remodel their existing house for aging in place or to move into a retirement community? Many seniors prefer to stay in their home, as leaving home is often one of seniors’ biggest fears, but they may want to consider remodeling in a way that makes aging in place more comfortable for them. On the other hand, they may want to consider what perks and added conveniences they will be missing out on by not moving into a retirement community instead.
Things to Consider about Aging in Place Remodeling
You may hear people talking about “aging in place” — retrofitting houses so that seniors can continue to live alone. But there’s more involved in this process than just adding a few grab bars around the house. You need wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. You might also have to replace toilets and sinks to make them easier for a senior to use. And if there are stairs in the house, you may be looking at costly renovations.
Think about all the noise, dust, inconvenience and expense of a remodeling project. A quality retirement community offers you a comfortable, safe space that’s ready to move into now. In addition, retirement communities such as Daystar are designed from the ground up with seniors in mind — not as an afterthought.
Adaptability of the Modifications
Another thing to think about is whether or not your current house — even after modifications — will continue to meet your needs down the road. To be honest, it’s hard to anticipate exactly what those future needs will be.
We’ve talked a bit about some of the things you need to consider when choosing between remodeling an existing home and moving into a retirement community. But something seniors (and those who care for them) sometimes fail to consider when making this decision is the issue of maintenance.
Even if you carefully remodel your house’s interior to make it easier to get around safely and comfortably, someone still has to take the responsibility of maintaining that house. The house will need to be cleaned regularly. Appliances will need to be maintained. The heating units will need to be serviced. Maybe you can handle some of those tasks now — but what about a year or two from now? Down the line, you may have to pay someone to do it.
Then, of course, there’s the maintenance of the outside of the house. Who will make sure the house gets painted? Who is going to check the roof to make sure there is no damage? And what about landscaping or maintenance of the yard? If regular maintenance becomes a burden you no longer want to bear, you’ll have to hire someone to take care of that for you, too.
Retirement Community Living
Retirement communities, on the other hand, are designed with the changing needs of seniors in mind. At Daystar, we “eat, sleep, and breathe” senior care, so our apartments and common areas are already optimized for a wide range of senior needs. And our staff is on hand 24/7 to provide assistance.
In a retirement community such as Daystar, seniors can enjoy maintenance-free living. We take care of all repairs, and upkeep. And you can enjoy a beautiful park-like setting with walking paths and gardens to explore — without having to do a lick of yard work!
Living at Daystar Retirement Village has numerous advantages. From the lush scenery, the walking grounds and the friendly staff, it’s the perfect place to spend your golden years. But what happens when you’ve finally got that blessed empty nest, and there’s no son or daughter to help with such daily housework unpleasantries? Daystar has you covered!
No more winter preparation
Who hasn’t looked outside at the year’s first snowfall, only to grimace at the reality that shoveling and plowing the driveway are soon to follow? Residents at Daystar Retirement Village no longer have to worry about shoveling, winterizing lawn mowers, putting up storm windows, making sure that the snowplow has gasoline, plowing driveways, or whether the pipes will freeze. Daystar’s staff is equipped to take care of all these unpleasant winter-time tasks — keeping you inside to enjoy what you love best.
No more yard work
Let’s face it, we’re not all like Bob Villa or Martha Stewart who have schedules (or a staff) for garden preparation and yard maintenance. Whether it’s prepping the garden beds, raking leaves, storing yard tools, seeding, mowing, watering, thatching or maintaining equipment, residents can rest assured they’ll enjoy beautiful grounds without the hassle of the work itself. Daystar residents enjoy beautiful gardens and park-like walking paths. Some apartments have balconies with views of the area so more time can be spent enjoying life without the constant yard work.
Our residents no longer have to worry about going outside during the winter months and slipping on icy sidewalks. Our grounds crew maintains the parking lots, sidewalks and walkways so that if seniors need to go somewhere or have visiting guests, snow and ice have already been removed and the risk of falling has been greatly reduced.
Less house work
Our apartments feature generous closet and storage space, washers and dryers in each independent living apartment and personal laundry service for residents in assisted living apartments. In addition, Daystar offers daily or weekly housekeeping assistance!
Daystar Retirement Village is close to shopping, dining and entertainment. The Westwood Village Mall is just across the street with banks, groceries, retail stores and restaurants. Daystar has cable TV, an in-house beauty salon offering manicures and pedicures and a barbershop. See all of Daystar’s amenities, including walking trails, free transportation, group outings, and so much more.
A myriad of social opportunities
Something many seniors find difficult about aging in place retirement is the feelings of isolation they get. Many seniors drive less — or not at all — as they age, and during periods where there are few visitors this can cause them to feel trapped and lonely within their own home.
Living in a retirement community removes this concern entirely, because a retirement community is, well, a community. At Daystar, for example, there is always a fun activity going on and there are always fun, friendly people to meet and talk to. If you ever feel lonely in a retirement community, just knock on your neighbor's door!
Using Your Home to Finance Retirement Living
To most Americans, their home is their biggest investment, and they’ve spent 30 years paying for it. If you’re thinking about downsizing or moving to a senior living community, here are some tips to use your house to your advantage as you plan your retirement goals.
First of all, decide what lifestyle you want to live when you retire. If you plan to stay in your home for a decade or two but are worried about repairs or being able to afford the expenses, you might consider a reverse mortgage. This is basically an equity loan which doesn’t have to be repaid until you move out of the home, sell it, or pass away, and can ease the financial burden if you’re having a hard time making ends meet or perhaps need major renovations on your home.
A home equity line of credit may be viable, but remember you have to repay the loan in monthly installments. This option will only work if you have enough income to cover the added expense, so it depends on whether you have the cash flow to cover future payments.
Selling your home outright may make the most sense, especially if you plan to travel a lot or want to live in a warmer climate during the winter and a mild climate in summer. Usually, seniors find themselves in an empty nest that’s too big to maintain, and spend their spare time cleaning or repairing a house that they’ve outgrown. Many “snowbirds” sell their family home in order to purchase two smaller residences so they can have the best of both worlds; others choose to move to retirement community so they can enjoy the amenities of a retirement lifestyle without worrying about home repairs or house cleaning.
If you’re considering a move to a retirement community but aren’t sure it’s what you want in the long term, you might consider renting your home. In this case, often the best plan is to hire a property management company to take care of all the details. A property management company will advertise the home, do credit checks and contract details with the renter, collect monies, and oversee repairs and evictions if they occur.
Whatever route you’re considering, it’s a good idea to gather your financial paperwork and visit an attorney or retirement counselor who specializes in estate planning. They will be able to analyze your income and investments as well as your projected social security benefits and home value, and help you plan the long-term retirement you’ve been waiting decades to begin!
Selling a home is often a great option for financing retirement living, but it is only one of several choices. If you or a loved one is trying to sort through various options, we recommend the services of Elderlife Financial Services.
Elderlife Financial Services specializes in helping seniors access high-quality care when they need it. Whether you are in crisis and need immediate help to get a loved one appropriate care, or are planning for the future, an Elderlife Family Advisor can help you figure out your options.