Fairfax Realty Elite
Keji Ogunleye

How to Get Set Up to Age in Place Safely and Confidently

Guest Article by Jim Vogel

Buying a home during your senior years isn’t always ideal, but it does present unique opportunities. You can add a handful of useful features to your home buying wish list that will prove beneficial well into your golden years. Here’s how to get set up to age in place in safety—and with confidence.

Downsize Smartly
Downsizing is a smart first step when faced with an impending move, says Business Insider, if you approach it correctly. That means going through your belongings and hanging onto only the things that you have room for and truly enjoy. But if you’re not ready to let go of some items yet, putting them in storage for the short term is a handy solution.
The average cost of a storage unit in Lanham is $113 per month, but smaller units can be had for less, and deals are available. Later, once you settle into your new place, you can decide what you want to keep from storage, if anything.
It may also help to be gentle on yourself. Change can be stressful and even traumatic, even under ideal circumstances. If you’re moving out of a home you’ve lived in (and loved) for years, it may be even tougher to part with possessions.
Psychology Today recommends taking proactive steps toward your future instead of remaining passive while things happen around you. Embracing the future as it arrives—and changing your mindset—can do wonders for your mental and emotional state.

Be a Forward Thinker

You might love the garden on a potential property, but in a few more years, will the acreage seem daunting instead? When you’re shopping for a home leading up to (or during) retirement, a perspective shift is helpful.
Think about five, ten, and 15 years in the future. What features will be handy, and which will be a headache? You may opt for a lower-maintenance property such as an apartment or condo or another type of senior living, or a house with a small and manageable yard.
You may also look to find a home that already has accessibility features and is only one story. While an ornate staircase may look lovely today, in a few more years, it might cause you difficulty.

Invest in Modifications

The unfortunate truth is that many older people experience mobility and other challenges related to aging. Even something as simple as knee pain can cause your daily activities to be a struggle. Therefore, when shopping for a home during your golden years, you will want to consider accessibility and modifications for aging in place safely.
The good news is that many newer properties are incorporating universal design into their builds. Universal design is an approach that involves features that are accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Common elements include knob-free door handles for easy opening, wider doorways with zero drop for walkers and wheelchairs to maneuver, and grab bars in potentially slick areas (it typically costs $140 to have grab bars installed).
Of course, if you decide to build a custom home, you can also collaborate with your contractor to incorporate accessible features. If you buy a home without such features, it may be possible to make modifications for walker or wheelchair access. Plus, there are financial programs to assist people with disabilities and veterans afford such measures, says The Balance.

Choose a Neighborhood with Amenities

Many older adults tend to stay in more as they age, partly due to physical challenges. For example, consider the fact that you may not be able to drive safely as you get older. Hearing and vision difficulties—plus slower reaction times—can make driving dangerous for older adults, says the National Institute on Aging.
You may not be there yet, but thinking ahead can help you choose a location that’s safe for the long term. Though grocery delivery and ridesharing services are common, they’re easier to access in urban areas rather than rural ones, so consider neighborhoods carefully.
Preparing to move—and downsizing—isn’t easy at any stage of life. But with the right mindset and a plan, you can successfully shed excess belongings, settle into a new place, and enjoy your golden years with less stress.
Photo via Pixabay

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Keji Ogunleye
Associate Broker
Fairfax Realty Elite, Inc
Licensed In: MD
License #: 585497
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