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Budgeting Over 65: How Seniors Can Afford to Age in Place

Although aging is an undeniable part of life, most of us don’t want to think about how our bodies and minds will change in the future. But even if we’re in excellent health now, that could all change a few years down the line.

Statistics show that most of us underestimate the costs of long-term care, leaving many seniors financially vulnerable — especially if they require more than home care can offer. While nearly 90% of those over 65 years of age want to remain in their homes for as long as they can, many of those seniors don’t give themselves enough time to make the necessary changes to their property for their changing needs. That means that we need to make those amendments — and budget for them — earlier on in life. You do this by following some of the tips listed here:

Save Up Before Retirement

By 2030, an estimated 20% of the US population will be over the age of 65. But no matter what year you’re able to take advantage of senior citizen discounts, you’ll want to start saving well before that time. Before you decide to retire, make sure you have enough saved for your regular expenses, bills, and potential costs associated with medical or personal care and renovations.

If you plan to remain in your home, make it a point to pay off your mortgage and other outstanding debts prior to retiring.

You should also consider deferring Social Security payments for as long as possible to maximize your monthly income for when you actually need those payments.

By making these decisions now, you’ll be able to live more comfortably later on.

Decide Which Changes to Prioritize

There’s a lot to consider when aging in place. Some adjustments will prove to be more useful — and more expensive — than others.

While it’s possible to gut your entire kitchen or bathroom to accommodate for your changing needs, you don’t necessarily have to go overboard. You may want to consider widening narrow doorways to provide room for mobility devices or to replace slick flooring with slip-resistant materials. A walk-in shower or tub and grab bars are typically seen as a must. Adjusting your countertops and cabinets may be a necessity for you, as well.

If your home has multiple stories or the only entryway has stairs, a chairlift or wheelchair ramp may be essential — but it also may end up being for naught if you don’t end up needing a wheelchair later on.

While the US construction market was worth around $1.1 trillion in 2016, no one can afford to make every single adjustment you could possibly need later in life. You may want to sit down with a financial advisor and a contractor who specializes in aging-in-place renovations to discuss your options, obtain estimates, and assess which changes make the most sense for your future needs. From there, you’ll be able to see which adjustments fit in the budget and which might not be vital for you.

Take Advantage of Community Resources

Now that you have a better understanding of your expenses and what the renovations might cost, you can take a look at places you can potentially save some money. You might be able to save money on gas or grocery shopping, for example, if you sign up for a meal or transportation service for seniors. Some communities will offer these services at a low cost, as well as yard and maintenance services.

Many seniors rely on the efforts of friends, family, and volunteers when they age in place; don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out resources for information in your community. You may also qualify for home improvement grants, depending on where you live and on your income, through the ElderCare.gov website.

While knowing exactly how much your long-term care will cost isn’t easy, it definitely pays to be prepared. By saving up more than you think you need now, deciding which renovations to prioritize, and seeking out community resources, you should be able to reduce unnecessary expenses and create a budget that includes the costs of aging-in-place renovations. That way, you’ll be able to remain in your home for many years to come without added financial strain.

Photo Credit: stock photo

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