Most seniors want to stay in their homes as they grow older. In fact, as of right now, 43 million seniors indicate they want to “age in place” or live out their years in the home where they are currently living. This figure of 43 million will only rise as more and more people, 10,000 every day, become “seniors” and continue to live longer that any other senior demographic in history.
Freddie Mac, one of the government sponsored mortgage lenders, says that making senior occupied homes accessible to meet senior needs is either costly or impossible. Many, many seniors simply haven’t the money required for the very basics, such as widening doorways and halls to accommodate wheelchair access or exchanging doorknobs for levered handles or adding handrails and seats into existing showers. Grab bars and pull out cabinets cost between $100.00 – $270.00 and average full bathroom remodels cost somewhere between $5,600. – $13,000. depending upon what actually needs to be done.
And, according to Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, 50% of seniors 55+ years and 75% of seniors 75+ years have one or more functional physical limitations. 1.5 million existing homes in the US require some sort of retrofitting to make it possible for seniors to age in place and, by 2030, some 2 million existing homes will require retrofitting. Add to this demographic information the fact that some homes, 57% of the homes in the northeast can’t be retrofitted at all simply because the majority of northeastern homes are multi-level, not single level, living spaces.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University reinforces Freddie Mac findings and paints an even darker picture than Freddie Mac by indicating that only 3.5% of today’s homes have any accessible features that would enable seniors to age in place.
Based upon these statistics, aging seniors and their families need to consider saving and planning now to make accessibility changes in existing homes that will enable seniors to age where they want to age…in place. These same families will also need to plan with their trusted real estate agent in homes where retrofitting will be financially unfeasible and develop a plan to move their loved one to a home with a suitable set up, in the event that their old place cannot be made new.