Did your retirement plan involve a home remodel? Or even a home remodel remodel? My mother-in-law spent about a decade taking care of her mother. Not only did she require lots of attention and care, but she also required easier access to the house she lived in. As she got older, her body was less stable and the falls she encountered caused more and more hospital stays. The house needed to be improved to accommodate an aging person. They had to remodel a bathroom, get a special bed, and even make sure the floor was safe for her to walk on. These improvements didn’t come cheap and were implemented in some instances only after a big incident. Her retirement assets would have never been able to pay for these improvements, but luckily for her children, they were able to pay for these things. For a lot of people, this isn’t a luxury they can afford. Proper planning could help you avoid having troubles staying in your own home as you get older.
I have helped many people think about long term care and the need to help pay for someone to take care of you. What I have seemed to forget is the story I mentioned above and the need to make a home more accessible to the people living in it. I would argue that most people, as they age, can do a whole lot on their own without care, if only they had the accessibility to do so. Imagine if the kitchen had pull down shelves and drawers so you can find plates, cups, pots, and pans, easily. Imagine if you had a bathroom that had handles to support your weight so you could easily get up and down without additional help and imagine if the doorways in your home were wide enough to accommodate a walker and/or a wheelchair so you can get around even when your body can’t move like it used to? You would be independent! The activities of daily living could be accomplished on your own and you wouldn’t need to hire a nurse or caregiver.
So how can you plan for these needs? You can make the improvements now. Before retiring, hire a contractor to make changes to your living space to improve your quality of life. If everything is just fine now, then put a portion of your long term care money you set aside, to be reserved for home improvements. You can invest a small portion, maybe 15-25k and set it aside in your investments and ear mark it as “Home improvements.” If you are lucky enough to be living on a pension, but don’t have a lot saved, make a plan to live a little bit below your income and set up a savings plan where you put away a little extra each month to pay for home repairs. This way you don’t have to go into debt and don’t have to cut corners making your home better. Your future self will thank you.
When you start preparing for retirement, don’t forget about your home, your sanctuary.