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Preparing Your Home for Comfortable, Safe Aging

Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerWhen most people think about estate planning, they often focus the transfer of assets from one generation to the next. Wills and trusts—the most common vehicles for transferring such assets—represent a significant part of the estate planning process, but there are many other considerations that should be addressed. One of the most often overlooked aspects of estate planning is preparing yourself and your home to make life easier as you age, and doing so often takes time, money, and self-awareness regarding your current and possible limitations.

A Glaring Need

According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 12 million Americans over the age of 65 live alone. A disproportionate 69 percent of that number—nearly 8.3 million—are women. While independence among senior citizens is often a desirable alternative to assisted living or nursing facilities, the reality is that a home that is suitable for a healthy, able-bodied adult may not be convenient or safe for an aging senior.

Take a quick glance around your home. Do you live in a house with several levels? Where are your bathrooms? How easily can you access the attic or laundry facilities in the basement? Now take a second look and imagine that you no longer have the same ability to move easily. Picture yourself with a health condition that makes climbing stairs particularly difficult or standing for a long time impossible. If your second look raised any doubts about your ability to function in your home as you age, you should consider making appropriate preparations for the future.

Maximizing Livability

For many seniors, moving to a home that is more conducive to aging is not a reasonable option. Thus, modifications to an existing home are often necessary. Common modifications for “aging-in-place” tend to include:

  • Eliminating porch steps or stairs to entryways. You may consider installing a ramp over existing outdoor staircases to make entryways more accessible. A roof or awning over the ramp could also help in dealing with inclement weather;
  • Installing a chair lift for indoor staircases. If your bedroom is on an upper level, you need to have a way to get up and down the stairs;
  • Moving laundry facilities to the main floor. It is usually helpful to keep as much as possible on the ground floor, as carrying baskets of clothes on stairways can be dangerous;
  • Installing level-style door hardware in place of knobs. Knobs can be difficult to use for seniors with arthritis or other conditions that affect joint mobility or strength; and
  • Improving bathroom safety. Grab bars, lift toilet seats, bath seats, and easy-access tubs can help prevent falls and catastrophic injuries.

It is also extremely important to develop a plan for getting the assistance you need. Family members and friends can help with trips to the grocery store, decorating for and cleaning up after holidays, and retrieving items from the basement or attic. While relying on others may be frustrating, it is better than pushing yourself too far and causing a serious injury.

We Can Help

Modifying your home for comfortable aging is likely to require a financial investment—one that could potentially affect the assets remaining in your estate. For guidance on developing an estate plan that takes such investments into account, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today.

 

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/05/numbers.aspx

https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/03/six-home-modifications-to-help-you-age-in-place.html

http://www.eldercare.gov/Public/Resources/Factsheets/Home_Modifications.aspx

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