Patio Door Addition

One challenge with downsizing may be when your new smaller home does not exactly match your lifestyle. Here’s an example of how one of my clients adapted their home so they could more easily entertain outside. I love how they took the space they had and created a better, more usable space that works for their needs. It also brightens the home with natural sunlight from the south facing sliding glass door.


Preparing Financially to Stay in Your Home


Photo Credit: Elaine,

As we and our loved ones age, our physical and financial strength often diminish. The decision then must be made whether to stay in our homes or move to a place where we may be assisted by others when the need arises. The term used for people who want to live their lives out in their own homes is called ‘Aging in Place.’ As a matter of fact, there is a National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC). The NAIPC recently surveyed older adults, and 90 percent of them say they’d rather age in place than move to an assisted living facility.

While aging in place allows you or your elderly loved ones the blessing of staying in your home and neighborhood, it also comes with its challenges. One of the most pressing challenges for many is the cost. Following are a few areas you may wish to consider to ensure you and your loved ones are financially prepared to stay in your home.

The Cost to Age in Place

As the nation’s debt continues to climb, less money is being put into establishing the well-being of senior citizens. A recent article in Forbes recognizes the declining support of federal funds and encourages people to think outside of the box when it comes to financing aging in place. Specifically, the need to think now about how to prepare ourselves for later on.

Healthcare Costs

As healthcare costs rise and insurance coverage weakens, start focusing on maintaining good health now to reduce your costs later on. Age-friendly homes can reduce the chance or frequency of falls, which will decrease emergency room visits and doctor’s office bills. When a home is properly prepared for aging in place, there is a less likelihood of injury. And when injuries do occur, if the home is age-prepped, there is an easier and a quicker recovery.

Home Preparations

There are a few preparations that can be made now to age in place later. Handrails along steps, through hallways, or in the bathroom will help prevent falls. Add a ramp to your front or back entrance to avoid climbing up and down stairs. Consider adding extra lights to entryways, around steps, and throughout the house to prevent tripping. If little renovations are made over time, you will not have to worry about affording major home changes and their costs after retirement.

Financing the Rest of Your Life

As you or your loved ones prepare for the future, make sure you are prepared to handle all of life’s finances. Work on paying off the mortgage to avoid that large monthly bill. Look into investments, whether in real estate or stocks, as a means for income after retirement. Look into insurance options or save money to pay for healthcare out of pocket. By preparing now through home renovations or remodeling and finance and investment options, you can face the future knowing that you are adequately prepared to enjoy aging in place.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Removing Walls: An Alternative to Downsizing


Open Room, no walls

If you’re considering downsizing or right-sizing because you need more family-gathering space, removing a wall may be a less-expensive and less-stressful option than moving. Here’s a brief article on where to start, written by Debbie Webb.

“The walls are coming down! Rooms for family separation seem to be in the past. Today’s home buyers are looking for wide open spaces. If they do end up purchasing a home that has a family room, for instance, a future plan will probably be to open things up.

New Family Trend

Families spend more time together than their predecessors who wanted a place separate from the children. The trend of today is to include the children in choices the family makes when deciding on home entertainment. If a television program is not rated “PG,” it probably will not be shown on the television that is most likely visible from every vantage point from the kitchen, dining, and living areas. Gone are the days of children being seen and not heard.

Tear Down Those Walls

Taking down walls is not hard to do but you need to consult with someone who can tell you if they are load bearing or not. Older homes were often built with beams that held the weight, but, if not, an engineer might need to install some in order to remove the walls.

You need to recognize that once the walls are down, you will most likely need to replace floor coverings and at least patch ceilings. If the ceilings are different heights in each room, it will take extra work to make them even.

Before beginning a project to open your floor plan, call a contractor who can answer your questions and help you realize your vision. After you have determined what is to be done, the contractor will draw a plan of your new open space. They will take the plan to your city or county or city center to secure a permit for the work to begin. At this point, you should draw up an agreement with the contractor to clarify what you expect the finished product to end up looking like and what the costs will be. Some contractors will give a bid for just the labor without supplies. If the contractor will let you shop with their discount, this may be the way to go. It enables you to choose your own flooring and paint, or if the remodel is more extensive, maybe appliances or lighting. If you plan to finance the improvements, you will need a complete cost break-down for the lender.

Regardless of how it’s done, it is obvious that those walls are tumbling down.”

Debbie Webb