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Many baby boomers making their homes more elder-friendly

A person's needs can change greatly as they grow older. This includes their needs regarding housing. A home that was perfectly fine to live in when younger could be a tough place for an elderly person if it has lots of tight spaces, lacks helpful safety features, has lots of stairs/steps or has other not-so-elder-friendly characteristics.

When a person starts experiencing physical health problems in their elderly years and has a house that is not very elder-friendly, they could face the choice of either trying to make their house more elder-friendly on the fly or moving (such as to an elder care facility).

There are a good number of baby boomers who are trying to avoid facing this choice in the future. Specifically, there has been a recent trend among baby boomers of preemptively getting themselves into housing situations that are more elder friendly, even if they don't currently have any physical issues that require elder-friendly housing features. This involves things like making elder-friendly renovations to their home or making sure that new homes they are moving into have elder-friendly features.

Examples of things that can make a home more elder-friendly include:

  • Extra lighting.
  • Fewer uses of steps.
  • One-floor layouts.
  • Wider doorways.
  • Larger garages.
  • Strongly reinforced walls (to handle future handrails).
  • Making switches and drawers easy to reach/access.
  • No-slip tiles in bathrooms.

Why is planning for future age-related needs when it comes to housing so popular among baby boomers? One potential contributor is the fact that many baby boomers are involved with the care of their adult parents. This experience may be providing baby boomers with some real-life examples of the hazards of living in an elder-unfriendly environment when older.

Of course, planning when it comes to the elder-friendliness of their home is not the only advanced planning baby boomers can do for future aging-related needs. Another is long-term care planning. This planning involves making advanced preparations for the possibility of facing long-term care needs and costs down the line. Such planning can help a person from being caught off-guard and ill-equipped if they do ultimately end up having such needs and costs. Estate planning attorneys can guide baby boomers and adults of any age through the process of getting a long-term care plan in place.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Baby boomers planning earlier for later years," Alyson Ward, March 12, 2016

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