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Thursday, February 16, 2017

My life in real estate: On to the next chapter

Last year was a big year for me. The part that I liked the best is, I no longer have to watch my medical insurance premiums skyrocket. While I still haven't exactly figured out Medicare, I do know that my expenses have gone down dramatically.  

Another bonus -- I love getting the senior rate at movie theaters!   And the best bonus of all -- Senior Homestead Tax Relief... check it out for Lake County or Cook County.

The one thing I don't like so much is what's happening to my eyes. I'm finding it harder to see without stronger lighting.

Ah, the aging process...  We're all going to be there eventually.

What does it mean for our homes? The challenge, that I find that I am discussing with more and more of my Boomer friends and clients, is what's next?  Moving to a different part of the country?  Aging in place? Downsizing? Moving to the city?   

Should I sell the house and move to a condo?  So many decisions and it's not always easy to figure out.

As the number of home buyers ages 55 and older accelerates over the next decade, builders across the country are recognizing the change and figuring out how to serve them.  They are looking for ideas to design, remodel, and market spaces so that they'll be more appealing to older home buyers.  Here are some home features to consider as we Boomers move on to the next chapter:

Boost the light.  As people age, the lens of the eye thickens and lets in less light. This means a 60-year old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old.  Look for inexpensive ways to add light in unexpected places, such as inside drawers and cabinets.   I've added lights to closets and installed more recessed lighting in some of my rooms -- it has definitely helped!  Home Depot sells these clever LED stick-on lights.

Think Storage!  We spend the first part of our lives accumulating things -- we think we're all set and then in come our parents and grandparents' stuff!  At least, that's what I've experienced.   On top of that, the kids leave their things in the house.   Downsizing means either eliminating or storing.   There are so many creative ideas for storage in unlikely places.   I've got a couple of boards going on Pinterest that consider storage options.   Closets, Sensible Use of Space

Consider accessible features. Everyone wants to be able to age in place, but few want to think of a time when they’ll be physically limited.  Many bathroom product manufacturers are now making grab bars that look more like shelves and towel racks than institutional-style safety features.  

Examine where the stairs lead. Think safety when considering flooring - sunken living rooms are definitely passe for seniors - too dangerous! Steps can be problematic for those with mobility issues. Stairs are the number one reason people go to the emergency room, and not just those over 55.   I always encourage my boomer clients to look for the first floor master.   

As they say, "old age is not for sissies."  Watching my Dad in his final years -- I couldn't agree more.   But with some thoughtful ingenuity, people can make their homes safer and more accessible as they move on to the next chapter.  

Will Your Home Be Ready for Aging in Place?

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