Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Those who want to continue living in their homes as long as possible as they age should also be aware that and they may need to take on home improvements such as bathroom renovations and even room additions, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

It said that in the most recent nationwide housing survey, just 3.5 percent of homes had features such as grab-bars or handrails in the bathrooms, extra-wide hallways and doors, and a bedroom on the entry level potentially needed for those with conditions such as difficulties with walking or self-care.

“Given that mobility and other difficulties increase with age, many older homeowners must make accessibility improvements if they want to age in place. Among owners reporting remodeling activity in 2017, 10 percent of those aged 65–79 and 14 percent of those age 80 and over undertook at least one home project intended to improve accessibility,” it said.

“Of those older homeowners that can afford to make improvements, most pay for the projects from savings,” the report added. “Among households age 50 and over reporting any type of home project in 2017, 66 percent of the expenditures came from cash savings. In contrast, cash-out refinances or home equity loans and lines of credit provided only 9 percent of the funds expended for home projects.”