A “forever home” is a concept that describes a home where your family will live and grow for the rest of your life. For 81% of people who are moving, finding their perfect forever home is the most important factor.
But if you’re approaching your senior years, your housing needs are subject to change — and if your home isn’t accessible or comfortable, you might find yourself moving right back out of that “forever home” only a couple of short years after you moved in.
Building or buying a new home? Here are a few ways to anticipate your future needs and ensure your forever home will be just that.
What Makes A Forever Home?
There are multiple factors that differentiate a forever home from a starter home. When you bought your first home, you likely had to compromise on some of your wants or needs. A forever home has it all — a large backyard, beautiful kitchen, and enough space for the grandkids to visit.
One of the most important elements, however, is that a forever home can adapt with you. Your family’s needs will change pretty widely over the years. And a forever home should be flexible and customizable enough that it can keep up — meeting those needs as you continue to live in comfort.
What Does It Mean to Age in Place?
If you’re hoping to age in place, a good forever home becomes even more important. According to the National Institute on Aging, aging in place simply means staying in your own home as you get older (rather than moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home). 88% of adults ages 50-80 say it’s important to them to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
People may want to age in place because it’s much more comfortable and familiar. You can retain feelings of independence and continue engaging in your usual social activities. Aging in place is usually more cost-effective, too.
If you want to be successful with aging in place, planning ahead is a crucial component. And that’s where your home comes into play.
5 Tips to Build The Perfect Forever Home For Aging in Place
Only one in three adults (34% of those age 50-80) say their home has the features they’d need to age in place. Here are a few tips to follow as you plan your forever home with safe aging in mind.
#1. Choose The Right Location
The first thing you’ll need to do before building your forever home is to choose a location. Keep in mind that some locations make aging in place more feasible than others. For example, you might want to:
- Be close to a major hospital or other good healthcare systems
- Feel safe and secure in your neighborhood
- Have easy access to public transportation
- Be nearby family, friends, or other community members who can help you as needed
It’s easier to age in place when you’re in close proximity to any help or assistance you might need.
#2. Consider Accessibility
A forever home needs to be accessible for a variety of needs. In a poll that asked participants about aging in place, a third of participants said they would need to modify their current residence (in many cases, both inside and outside) so they could continue living there if they had physical limitations.
Can a wheelchair or walker fit through the doorways? Is there space in the bathroom to add a grab bar? Is your bedroom upstairs or downstairs? Will you need a ramp going up to the front door rather than steps? These are important considerations to keep in mind as you build — there’s nothing worse than being unable to safely navigate your own home.
Accessibility considerations are especially important if you already live with a chronic illness or health condition. Someone with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is more likely to have mobility issues as they age.
#3. Integrate Technology
The wide range of technology that’s available to use today can serve as a helpful tool allowing you to safely age in place. Smart technology lets you control a device from your smartphone. Research has shown that older adults use smart home technologies such as:
- Voice-controlled assistive devices (like Echo or iHome)
- Smart thermostats
- Doorbell cameras
- Door locks
- Smart stove alarms
- Bath temperature monitors
- Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
- Water leak detectors
- Smart medication pillboxes
- Emergency response systems
- Home security systems
Smart technology helps keep you safe — especially helpful if you are aging in place while living alone.
#4. Create Social Spaces
Aging in place isn’t just about physical health. It’s a huge way to improve your mental and emotional health, too. Older adults who are lonely or socially isolated have a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious health conditions.
As you think about your future home where you’d like to age in place, consider adding a patio, a guest bedroom, extra room outside for parking, or something else that will help create a space that’s not only inviting to you, but also makes it easy to welcome guests. Social connections help our mental health. And when you live in a beautiful space that you feel proud of, it will be easier to invite people over to share life with you.
#5. Consult Experts
If getting your home design right feels too overwhelming, you don’t have to do it on your own. Look for an architect, contractor, or other consultant who is well-versed on the best kind of homes for older adults. They can help you figure out the best forever home for you.
There are also financial assistance programs available if you’re trying to modify an existing home to meet your needs. Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance plans cover certain modifications. Your state Housing Finance Agency can offer guidance on your situation.
Ready to Age in Place?
Aging in place is a great way to retain your independence, freedom, and the habits you’re used to. But your safety and health is the most important consideration. Set yourself up for success by building a forever home that will meet your needs both now, and far into the future.
Have financial questions as you move toward retirement? Our Bankers Life agents would be happy to help. Contact us today.