I work with a lot of retirees and seniors on making real estate decisions.  In fact, I work with a lot of them who are relocating to Vancouver, WA due to the combination of tax advantages and progressive politics and proximity to Portland.  I like helping people through such important transitions in their lives.

Sometimes, the best option is to neither to sell your current home nor buy a new one.  Sometimes, the best option is what is called “aging in place.”  What is aging in place?  It is updating your current home to meet your needs as you get older.  (Some real estate agents think it is crazy to help people who are not initiating a transition, but some of us are actually motivated to simply help people).

So, what are some things older homeowners can do to update their home for aging in place?  Most changes come down to two categories: safety and convenience.

You can improve safety in your home for aging in place in a variety of ways.  For instance, you can add handrails in tricky spots, apply non-skid safety strips and grab bars in showers and tubs, keep broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with upper hold bar handy, and improve lighting.  There is some disagreement whether hardwood floors or carpeting are better for senior living, so that decision might depend on the specifics of your needs.

Make a home more convenient for aging in place with some of the following tips: install lever or loop handles instead of round door knobs, re-organize for less clutter and more ease-of-use for regularly used items, try a mail slot in the door with a basket catcher instead of an exterior mail box, use raised toilet seats, and a install a hand-held shower system instead of a fixed shower head.

This might be a lot to take on, but if you add one feature at a time as needed, it can be quite manageable and affordable.  There are also handyfolk and service providers who specialize in working with seniors and retirees like I do (I’m a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist, so you can ask me for referrals).

If you have questions about aging in place or other senior housing options, just let me know.  I’m always happy to help.