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Aging in place: How to use your home to stay at home

Written by:
January 17, 2023

Three out of four people aged 50 and older want to stay in their current homes for as long as possible, according to an AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey. There are many benefits of aging in place, yet many Americans haven’t planned or prepared for it.

Whether you want to stay in your own home or downsize, you have a few options to use your home to stay at home.

How to use your home to stay at home

The feeling of being at home brings comfort and stability. Besides familiarity, aging in place can improve quality of life and reduce exposure to bacterial and viral risks found in senior living facilities.

However, homes can require costly repairs to reduce fall risks and make getting around easier. Installing a simple grab rail in the shower is relatively cheap and easy, but modifying an older house can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Many older Americans often have their personal wealth tied up in home equity, making it difficult to pay for the needed changes. If you don’t have the cash on hand for repairs and modifications to stay in the home you love safely, you can use your home equity to stay in the home you know and love.

Best options for accessing home equity

Older Americans looking to access their home equity have several options to consider.

Budget and save

If you’re still working, you can start planning for aging in place. Consider the modifications your home might need. The Cleveland Clinic has a list of low-cost changes to implement. For more accessibility, Aging In Place has a room-by-room checklist that can help you budget and save for costs.

Cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance is a new mortgage that can give you a lump sum of equity at closing. You can use the money to pay contractors for modifications and home improvements. But remember that your new mortgage payment might be higher than your previous amount.

Home equity line of credit

Using your home equity to access a revolving source of cash, much like a credit card, can streamline home equity into your wallet. You can access as much or as little money as you need. The closing costs are low, and you won’t pay interest on the equity you don’t use.

Older Adult Home Modification Program

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers an Older Adult Home Modification Program (OAHMP) for low-income elderly homeowners. The grant helps pay for repairs and renovations so seniors can remain at home rather than move into nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Sell your home

Modifying your home isn’t always the best option. Selling your house might be the better choice if renovations are costly or you’re struggling to cover the cost of mortgage, utility, or property tax payments. By selling, you can often find a new home specifically built for mobility issues, allowing you to stay in your same community and keep your independence.

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