Home is where the heart is—especially for older Americans. The vast majority want to remain in their homes as they grow older. In recognition of American Housing Month in June, Busey provides the following tips for “aging in place”:
Review your finances with a trusted family member or friend and a banker. It’s critical to understand your financial resources, how long they’ll last and what housing options are the most cost-effective for your unique financial situation. Be sure to consider all costs associated with aging in place:
• Modifications to your home
• Transportation to medical appointments,
• In-home caregiver for house upkeep and medical purposes
Assess your home and determine needed modifications. While staying in your home is preferable for many, you might have to make design changes to ensure safety and comfort.
• Be sure you have at least one step-free entrance to your home.
• Update all walkways and stairs, so they are well-lit and clear with all carpets secured to the floor.
• If a bedroom and bathroom doesn’t exist on the first floor, consider installing an elevator or chairlift. At minimum, make sure you have handrails on both sides of your stairs.
• Install grab bars in the bathtub, shower or near the toilet.
Make security a priority. Older American are often targets for scams and other criminal behavior. Be cautious about who you let into your home and share sensitive information with.
• Install up-to-date and easy-to-use locks. Make sure your front door has a peep hole or security monitor to see who is outside.
• Consult someone you trust when hiring a contractor, financial advisor, or other professional.
Consider a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. It can allow you to open up a line of credit using your home as collateral. Check with a mortgage lender at your financial institution to see if a HELOC is the right option for you.
Look into community resources if your mobility is limited. Many communities have non-profit programs that provide transportation and food delivery to assist older Americans at a reasonable cost.
Be prepared for possible emergencies.
• Keep a list of all emergency contacts on your refrigerator or by a phone.
• Consider using a Personal Emergency Response System with a transmitter that can be worn as a bracelet or around your neck—that way the simple push of a button can send a signal to a call center.
• Have your address number visible from the street so emergency responders can easily identify your home.
Reevaluate every six months to make sure all needs are being met. As you age, your needs inevitably change. Take time at least twice a year to sit down with your trusted family or friend and make sure your current living situation is still the right one.