If your home is older, and you are too, your home needs a few updates
to improve its safety and livability.
Elderly citizens face unique challenges in making the home a convenient and
safe place to do everyday things such as bathing, cooking, and climbing
stairs. The hazards of falls, scalding, and other injuries that we all face
are higher for seniors, and sometimes require alterations to the physical
structure of the home to improve its overall safety and condition. So what
modifications should be made and how? Where do you find financing for home
renovations and repairs?
Looking at possible improvements is well worth your time and trouble.
Perhaps the greatest advantage to making your home a comfortable, safe haven
is being able to remain in your home longer. If your home is older, and 60
percent of seniors live in homes that are 20 years older or older, chances
are your home needs a few updates anyway. And research suggests that
one-third to one-half of home accidents can be prevented by modifications and
Some of the typical problems that seniors encounter are:
Some possible solutions are:
So how do you find financing for remodeling a bath or porch or installing
safety equipment? First of all, check out grants and loan programs available
at reduced rates for eligible older people from your local government or
Federal sources. For example, the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) makes
various grants and loans for rural, low-income elders. In addition, many
cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to help citizens
maintain and upgrade their homes. And the local social services agency or
energy department can tell you about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) of the U.S.
Department of Energy, provide funds to weatherize the homes of lower income
persons. Funds from the Older Americans Act Title III often can be used to
modify and repair homes.
You can also shop around with local lenders and banks for Reverse Mortgages
or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM's) that allow homeowners to turn
the value of their home into cash, without having to make regular loan
payments. A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets a
homeowner convert the equity into a lump sum, a stream of payments, or as a
supplement to Social Security or other retirement funds. But unlike a
traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, no repayment is required
until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence. Be
extremely cautious, however, before signing up for a loan with just any
lender. Look out for your own interests and don't let friends, relatives or
business solicitors pressure you into taking out a loan. Here is a reliable
source of information on reverse mortgages: Housing Counseling Clearinghouse:
Sources used to create this article include the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD).