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Retire and stay home

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Posted: 7 am ET

Living in an assisted living or other kind of retirement facility costs an average of $2,500 to $3,500 per month if you don't need extra care.

Modifying your current home and staying put can have a significant upfront cost, but you only spend the money once. If you do it right, it can significantly extend the time you can live there.

The National Association of Home Builders reported recently that 62 percent of the builders it surveyed modified a home in 2010 to make it more aging-friendly. About 20 percent added a downstairs bedroom.

It's smart retirement planning to think about making simple modifications that will allow you to live in your home longer. Here are some mostly inexpensive changes suggested by the builders:

Better outdoor lighting:

  • Add ramps or a "zero-step entrance."
  • Add handrails at existing steps and porches.
  • Add sidelights to the front door so you can see who is there.

Update the kitchen:

  • Switch out the faucets in favor of those with a lever.
  • Replace dishwashers, washers and dryers to models that are easy to access without bending over.
  • Put front-loading washers on a platform.
  • Add revolving corner shelves and pull-out shelves.
  • Install a side-opening, work-level oven.
  • Adjust the height of the sink to accommodate your height; consider adding a second, wheelchair-level model.
  • Choose a side-by-side refrigerator with slide-out shelves and a water-ice dispenser.
  • Choose cooktops with front controls.
  • Add easy-to-grip handles.

Changes in the bathroom:

  • Install two or three grab bars in the shower.
  • Switch to levered faucets.
  • Install a hand-held shower head.
  • When installing a new shower, make it curbless and large enough to roll in a wheelchair.
  • Make tub and shower controls easy to adjust from the entry point.
  • Add anti-scald temperature and pressure balanced tub shower valves for safer bathing.
  • Widen entry doors to at least 32 inches -- 36 is better.
  • Choose higher commodes.

Moving around within the house:

  • Improve lighting with recessed fixtures in common areas and hallways.
  • Add lever handles on doors and windows.
  • Lower light switches and thermostats; raise outlets.
  • Plan for a future elevator by stacking closets.
  • Add blocking in walls for a future chair lift at the stairs.
  • Widen doors so they'll accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
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1 Comment
Ann alka WorkingBoomer
September 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Good article and very helpful to those of us nearing retirement time.