Fortunately, financial help is available.

Prepping a home for aging in place

The bathing chair helps the disabled and handicap use the bathtub easier with access at the height of a wheelchair. The wall handles help with accessibility.
Ben Carlson / Shutterstock

Popular accessibility modifications include adding grab bars and a shower seat in the master bathroom — which are relatively cheap and easy changes.

But more complicated work may be required when an older person needs a wheelchair or walker to get around. Doorways are often too narrow and kitchen countertops can be too high for a homeowner with serious mobility issues.

Widening doorways and lowering the height of kitchen counters (or raising the floor) can get quite costly. For example, in the kitchen it might be necessary to buy brand-new cabinets — possibly at a price of up to $20,000.

Installing a roll-in shower in a bathroom can cost as much as $10,000, says Homeability.com. Putting in a walk-in bathtub costs an average of $6,000, says Fixr.com

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Programs that cover all or some of the costs

Man drilling laminate with power drill on the table
Zivica Kerkez / Shutterstock

An older homeowner might decide the modifications aren't worth the expense and hassle. For someone straining to get by on a fixed income and meager savings, the costs might seem out of the question.

But several government and private programs can help offset the cost of aging in place:

  • Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance generally won't cover modifications to a home, though Medicare might pay for a walk-in tub or wheelchair ramp if either feature is deemed medically necessary.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program (at USDA.gov) offers grants so Americans 62 or older can make home repairs and improvements for the sake of health and safety.

  • At NCSHA.org, the National Council of State Housing Agencies has a list of state offices and organizations offering various types of support and assistance.

  • The U.S. Administration on Aging's "Eldercare Locator" tool can help you find home repair and modification resources near you. All you have to do is plug in your ZIP code.

  • A nonprofit called ModestNeeds.org provides "self-sufficiency grants" to help Americans just above the poverty line cover unexpected expenses, such as a necessary home project.

  • Reverse mortgages, available from lenders, allow seniors to tap the equity in their homes to fund improvements.

Never assume that you can't afford whatever alterations are needed to age in place, with all the dignity and comfort of remaining at home. Assistance is out there!

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About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman

Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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