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Plan Now for Aging-in-Place Home Improvements
By Phillip B. Burum
50 years ago, while Americans were still celebrating the first successful manned lunar landing, Californians celebrated the inauguration of the first native Californian as President of the United States. NASA was setting the stage to ‘win the space race’ by landing the first men on the moon and Michael Lang began planning for an outdoor music festival in upstate New York. 1969 was a truly remarkable year for anyone who was fortunate enough to witness those events first-hand.
Those that stood frozen in front of their television watching Neil Armstrong take those first steps or that joined the nearly half million rain-soaked and mud-covered attendees of Woodstock are now either retired or actively planning for their retirement. Planning for retirement should be on the mind of everyone from the first day they enter the workforce but for those where the decision to retire is imminent or has already taken place, deciding where you will live out your ‘golden years’ is among the biggest issues you will face.
Americans are living longer, more active, and healthier lives which makes planning for retirement a different proposition that it was only a few generations ago. America’s builders have responded by providing far more housing options today which are designed to fit the lifestyle of nearly every senior, from the most relaxed to the most active. If you are in the planning stage, be sure to check out at least one of the many age-targeted new home communities in our region.
If you have decided, however, that your current home is the best option for your retirement years; open your computer, go to your favorite web browser and search the term ‘aging-in-place’ (if needed, your grandchildren will show you how). You will find a plethora of information on remodeling techniques and concepts for addressing your current and future needs.
Because so many retiring Americans are choosing to remain in their homes, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) now offers a certification for remodeling professionals who specialize in making existing homes safer, more convenient and more comfortable for seniors.
The NAHB-Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) designation was created by NAHB in collaboration with American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to provide a reliable way to identify the best professionals to make improvements designed to last a lifetime. CAPS graduates receive specific training about both the technical and construction aspects of building for aging homeowners.
According to a recent NAHB survey, today about 80 percent of remodeling companies perform aging-in-place projects. The most popular such improvements focus on reducing maintenance and increasing the ease with which homeowners may move around within and without the home.
Aging-in-place remodeling projects that saw the largest increases over the past five years were additional lighting also known as “task lighting,” curb-less showers, bathtub grab bars, non-slip floors and widened doorways. The most popular exterior improvements include ramps or “zero step” entrances, package shelves near front doors, handrails installed at existing steps and porch or front door sidelights.
Because the kitchen is a major focus for home buyers and sellers, key aging-in-place kitchen improvements include; elevating dishwashers and other appliances to protect against back strain, rolling islands that can be placed under counters when not in use, revolving corner shelves, pull-out shelves and cutting boards, larger cabinet and drawer pulls and sinks that adjust to different heights.
The affordability of aging-in-place remodeling is enhanced by the fact that medically necessary changes such as wider doorways or a roll-in shower may be deductible on your taxes if supported by a letter from your doctor.
These are just some of the improvements that can add comfort and convenience to your home. So, if you’re ready to retire and looking for a remodeler, make sure you choose one with a CAPS designation from NAHB at nahb.org/remodelerassociatedirectory on the web. Ask them to show you all of the ways a remodeling job can make your home an easier place to thrive in during your golden years. For more information on remodeling, homebuying and homeownership visit www.biabuild.com or www.nahb.com/remodel on the web.