4 Steps to Helping an Older Loved One Buy the Perfect Home
If you’re a caregiver for your aging parent or other loved one, you may be at a crossroads where the person you care for wants to age in place but they are no longer able to live comfortably and safely in their home. The solution may be to help them buy a new home, but where do you begin the home-buying process for someone who is older? These four steps will get you started on the right track.
1. Finding the right home: House-hunting can be a daunting task for anyone, and the specific needs of an older adult can create an added challenge. Start with a very clear idea of your loved one’s budget, and encourage them to downsize to a smaller house or condo to save money. Retirees used to celebrate no longer having a mortgage, but these days getting a mortgage is a viable option and may even be the best choice for older adults. They may find there are more hoops to jump through, but The New York Times has some great tips for navigating the mortgage application process. When searching for the right house, look for features that will make the home easy and safe for them to get around in as they age. NBC recommends looking for five “must-have” features: a no-step entry, single floor, extra-wide doorways and halls, accessible electrical switches and controls, and lever-style doors and faucet handles. Beyond these basics, there may be other special features you want that will make their quality of life better and their home safer.
2. Consider remodeling: It may be impossible to find all the features your loved one needs in a home, so consider remodeling to get the exact features you want. Even on a budget, hiring a contractor to remodel the right home may still be more affordable than other options, like assisted living. The national average price to remodel more than one room at a time is $38,713, though the cost will ultimately depend on the size of each room, underlying problems that may arise, the cost of the materials and the extent of the remodel. Most remodeling expenses will have to be paid out of pocket, but if you’re installing any medical equipment, it’s worth looking into whether Medicare or private insurance will cover those expenses.
3. Avoiding issues on moving day: Moving can be stressful and emotional, but you can help with packing and moving, and as moving day approaches, make sure you stay mindful of your loved one’s feelings. To help them settle in, take pictures of the rooms in their old home before packing up so you can help recreate a similar furniture layout in the new place. This will help make the new space feel not quite so foreign. If your budget allows, hire a professional mover so you can take care of any last minute things that need to be done and also be an emotional support for your loved one. AARP suggests having your loved one go out for the day and do something they normally do, like lunch with a friend, giving you a chance to help put things in place to get them settled.
4. Keeping costs down: It is essential that you help your loved one stay within their budget in buying and remodeling a home because they will still need to save whatever they can for the rest of their retirement. Any money they save from downsizing should go immediately into their retirement savings account. And don’t forget that the moving process itself can be costly, so set a moving budget and be aware that unexpected expenses can pop up, so leave some wiggle room for those expenses.
Moving is never easy, especially for someone who is older and has created countless memories in their home. As their caregiver, you can help them both emotionally and with practical advice by going alongside them. As hard as it may be, they will thank you for making it possible for them to live happily and safely in their new home.
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