The Unspoken Financial Hardship Facing Many Seniors

Like so many other seniors, my wife and I have concluded that we will probably remain in our current home until we die. We are both in our upper 60s. The thought of packing up our house and moving to another home or apartment is too daunting for us to contemplate, at least for now.

However, as we continue to age, will we be able to function in our home? We live in a two story home with a full basement, where the laundry is located. What happens if we can no longer go up and down the stairs? Will we be forced to sell and move or will we be faced with trying to modify our house to make it workable to allow us to age in our home of over 20 years?

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Consider this recent report: For some seniors, aging in place might amount to simple modifications, such as adding shower grab bars or replacing a standard toilet with one that sits taller. But many seniors anticipate a financial crunch as they try to plan for their future on a fixed income, uncertain how far their savings and retirement funds will stretch.

A report released last week by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies may fuel these concerns. It cites growing income disparity for older Americans in the wake of the Great Recession, and says “ensuring financial and housing security in retirement will be a struggle.”

With an average 10,000 people a day turning 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 65-and-older segment of the population is the nation’s fastest-growing: By 2050, almost one-quarter of Americans will be at least 65. A host of surveys conducted over the past decade show that older adults overwhelmingly want to age in their homes. Two in 5 U.S. homeowners are baby boomers, according to a 2018 report released from Fannie Mae.

But for many people, aging at home isn’t in the cards. Abbe Will, associate project director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, said that many houses aren’t suited to “aging in place.”

We’ve already replaced the toilet on main floor with a higher one, but the shower is upstairs and there is no room to add one to the main floor. Will we one day be forced to add some kind of life system on the stairs going upstairs and down to the basement? Will we be able to afford it? The shower upstairs is a tub with shower that requires us to step in over the sides of the tub. Will we be forced to replace it with a walk-in shower? Will we be able to afford it?

Currently, we both hope to be able to age in our home, but if the situation happens that makes that impossible, what will we do? I don’t think either of us are up to packing and cleaning up the house, nor will we be able to make the necessary repairs that would be required for sale. This is a difficult decision that facing tens of thousands of seniors. Copyright Listabilities 2019, all rights reserved