Aging In Place Depends On Housing Wealth

Aging In Place Depends On Housing Wealth

A new report from the Mortgage Banker’s Association found that housing assets are still the dominating component of most Americans’ retirement portfolio.

Housing and Health

The report, titled “A Profile of Housing and Health Among Older Americans”, was co-authored by three professors. Michael D. Eriksen of Texas Tech University, Gary V. Engelhardt of Syracuse University, and Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley of Kent State University worked together to produce the document, which reveals the importance of housing in terms of aging and health.

Americans who own a home are “not surprisingly” more financially secure than those who rent. On average, housing assets make up 50% of total household assets, so a great deal of people’s wealth is consolidated into their home. “Owning a home provides the single largest asset in most Americans’ retirement portfolios,” said Professor Eriksen in a statement.

The report also revealed that people who owned a home faced fewer impediments to good health. Renting poses difficulties in terms of modifying your home for easier access. The ability to modify your home as you age is one of the most effective ways to avoid moving into a facility due to physical limitations.

Home Modifications

People who are unable to alter parts of their home to accommodate their needs may eventually find themselves moving in with family or into a long term care facility, where these needs can be better met. Aging in place is far preferred to living in a nursing home, though, so the authors of the report are encouraging “all parties interested in the implications of housing on an aging society” to refer to this data when making decisions related to aging in place and the health of seniors.

Analyzing 2010 data from the Health and Retirement Study, which was conducted by the National Institute on Aging and the University of Michigan, researchers discovered the health impact of renting versus owning a home. Home modifications are very common in the houses of aging adults. 31% of older Americans have some special safety features in their home and 13% modified their home between 2008 and 2010 to make it safer or more accessible.

The most frequently installed home modifications include grab bars and hand rails to help with balance and widened doorframes and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs. Door handles that replace knobs, modified sinks and faucets, and stair lifts are also common to help prevent injury and make the surroundings more accessible. Without these additions, moving easily throughout your home might become more difficult with age.

Aging In Place

While analyzing the numbers, the authors of the report found that individuals who rent their homes have double the rate of hip fracture compared to those who are owners. Though only 4% of older Americans rent, this difference in injury rate can still have a huge impact on those seniors who are struggling to deal with the limitations of their rented home.

As Baby Boomers begin to enter retirement, aging in place is becoming more of a priority. This generation has higher demands for care during their elderly years and those who wish to retain their independence for as long as possible and stay in the comfort of their home may face issues if they rent rather than own. Once someone reaches the point where they are too frail to remain in their home alone, the possibility of hiring an in-home health aide becomes the next option.

Though it’s the least expensive type of care, in-home care still costs an average of nearly $45,000, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Long term care insurance can help ensure you are ready to take on this kind of cost without depleting your retirement portfolio. For a side-by-side comparison of quotes from the top long term care insurance companies, fill out this form and we will be in contact with you shortly.

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