Aging in Place May Be Financially Impossible
February 22, 2017
Forty-three million American homeowners aged 55 and older say they plan to live out the rest of their years in their current home. But adding the necessary features they'll need to age in place could prove costly—and possibly financially impossible for some—according to a new analysis by mortgage financing giant Freddie Mac.
About 1.5 million existing homes require retrofitting, such as widened doorways and hallways, adding levered handles, or relocating a living space to a single floor, to make them more accessible for people with limited mobility, Freddie Mac reports. By 2030, that number will jump to 2 million homes. Two-thirds of homeowners who plan to age in place say their homes are not designed for people with arthritis and those who are in a wheelchair or have other mobility issues.
And retrofits can quickly add up. Grab bars and pullout cabinets cost an average of from $100 to $270. But more complex projects, such as a bathroom remodel, can cost anywhere between $5,600 to $13,000. Retrofitting may prove to be too expensive for many who intend to age in place, Freddie Mac's analysis notes.
Further, some homes may not be able to be retrofitted. The Northeast, for example, tends to have some of the oldest housing stock in the U.S. There, only 57 percent of homes can accommodate single-floor living. In the Midwest, however, 73 percent of homes can accommodate single-floor living, as well as 80 percent in the Southwest and West, according to Freddie Mac.
"Nearly a quarter of all baby boomers are going to be faced with the financial realities of aging in place, which can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars," says Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti. "Of course, the cost depends on the type and condition of the home. Many older homes, such as many of the Colonial-style homes common in the Northeast and Midwest, may not be good candidates for retrofitting. For some of them, aging in place until the bitter end may not even be a possibility."
Source: “Can I Age in Place?” Freddie Mac (Feb. 21, 2017)
Updated: February 21, 2020