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New report offers advice for baby boomers aging in place

The trend is expected to accelerate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo (c) kali9 - Getty Images
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may accelerate the trend of seniors staying in their homes as they age instead of moving to assisted living or long-term care facilities.

Americans are increasingly making modifications to their homes because they are spending so much time there during the pandemic, and this may be a boon to seniors who want to stay in their homes as they get older. Modernize.com, which provides home renovation and other home services, has published a new report highlighting the best ways baby boomers can do just that by “aging in place.”

Small improvements

A survey completed in January, quizzing more than 3,200 homeowners, showed that 57 percent believed COVID-19 had affected their timeline for making improvements that would facilitate their remaining in their homes as they age. In the next 12 months, 63 percent of homeowners said they will explore accessibility projects for their homes.

"Small improvements can make a big difference when it comes to improving safety and accessibility," said Gregg Hicks, vice president at Modernize.com. "It's possible to implement changes over time, and it is a good idea to get ahead of modifications so that they are made before they are absolutely essential."

Among the inexpensive modifications highlighted in the report are:

  • Adding grab bars in bathrooms;

  • Improving lighting in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms;

  • Replacing faucets with levered or motion-sensing models;

  • Installing a shower seat; and

  • Adding detachable and adjustable showerheads with at least a six-foot reach.

Walk-in tubs and chairlifts

The report also gives seniors some advice when it comes to making more substantial modifications that enhance the safety and functionality of the home. They include things like installing a walk-in tub or chairlift to get up and down steps.

ConsumerAffairs has collected thousands of verified reviews of bathroom remodeling companies here.

The last 12 months have seen a dramatic drop in people entering long-term care facilities. The National Investment Center recently reported that senior housing occupancy in the fourth quarter of 2020 fell to the lowest on record.

In the last 12 months, the occupancy rate in assisted living facilities is down 7.4 percent; it’s 6.2 percent lower for independent living facilities.

With more boomers choosing to age in place, many of the health services provided by those facilities are being picked up by home health services. Demand for home health aides is expected to grow by 34 percent between now and 2029, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

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