A Quick Guide for Seniors Modifying or Buying an Accessible Home

Guest Blog Post WRITTEN BY Sharon Wagner of seniorfriendly.info.

Senior in wheelchair with person walking next to them.

Are you a senior in the market for a more accessible home? Downsizing or modifying your home is the perfect step to reducing stress in your life and making aging in place easier. Like many older adults, you may be a bit confused about where to start. If you need to buy a new accessible home or make changes to your current one, here are some basics all seniors should know.

Start Working on Downsizing ASAP

The main point of a more accessible home is to make your life easier, whether it’s moving to a smaller home or upgrading your own. However, holding onto a lot of clutter can take away from your efforts to simplify your life. So, before you commit to creating or buying an accessible home, spend some time downsizing what you already have. Think about the space where you will ultimately live and use that to guide your process. Work on separating your belongings into what you definitely will keep, what should be let go, and what you’re not completely sure of yet.

For those tricky items that are on your “maybe” list, consider a small storage unit to keep them from taking up room in your home, but make sure this solution is temporary. Keeping a storage unit long-term can turn into just another burden, and that’s counterproductive when you are trying to streamline your life. Eliminating excess in your life, whether it’s by reducing your personal belongings or moving into a better-fitting home, is an important step for seniors to take and can leave you better prepared to enjoy the golden years of your retirement.

Figure Out How You Will Finance Home Changes

As with any major life decision, finances are key to helping you achieve the accessibility you need. If you will be relocating to a smaller/more accessible home, you’ll need to get your credit and your finances in top shape. Even current homeowners should take financial steps to make the home-buying process less stressful. Take a hard look at your retirement budget and make sure you will have enough to make any necessary payments and still take care of other expenses. It’s also wise on all accounts to work with a professional real estate agent who can help you find a home and deal with any confusing financial aspects of the transaction.

For those who want to upgrade an existing home, there may be other financial options available. There are tons of grants open to seniors and individuals with disabilities to help make home modifications more affordable and accessible. However, if you do not qualify, you can also consider an improvement loan to cover the cost of remodeling.

Know Which Renovations Will Make Your Life Simpler

Even if you are an older adult or living with a disability, you may not know what kind of features you need in your home. Many of the same upgrades that help seniors age in place can also make life with limited mobility much easier. You can have grab bars installed in bathrooms and other potentially slippery areas, swap out hardwood floors for carpet, and install brighter lighting throughout your home. For those living with a disability, modifications can be made to fit individual needs. In the case of visually impaired seniors, for example, using varying textures can make getting around and completing daily tasks safer, but using any bold patterns can be disorienting. It’s important to keep your own needs in mind when planning for modifications or looking for a more accessible home. If you are looking for a new home, you can simplify your search by looking for properties with these features built-in. Let your realtor know your expectations, or use online resources to find homes suited to your needs. For most seniors and adults, home is the center of your life. So, make sure yours has all you need to support and protect you in the years ahead. Whether you move to a new home or upgrade your present one, accessibility is sure to make those years truly golden.

Sharon is the creator of SeniorFriendly.info, which provides tips for staying active as you age. You can contact her through the website