Our surroundings play a vital role in how we feel. They reflect and impact our inner and outer worlds. While our lives are constantly changing, our homes tend to remain static, and eventually change is required for them to keep serving our everyday needs. Taking a look at your home with a lens of longevity can help you determine if it is ready to support you in the next phases of life.
Nearly 90% of those over 60 want to age in place, but most modern homes were not constructed with aging accommodations and adaptations. In these houses, an injury requiring crutches—or even sore knees—can render a good portion of the house inaccessible.
“Nobody likes the term aging in place because it makes us feel static and old,” said Francesca Alonso, author of Nesting for Empty Nesters- the Vacation Style Living Approach to Aging in Place. “But we have to remember we are aging in place the day we are born—and we have to all get over it and do what needs to be done to stay in your home, which is always the main goal.”
Alonso is an expert in reconfiguring and redesigning an existing home to prepare for the third stage of life. She has found the biggest reason these projects don’t get projects started is “Overwhelm Paralysis.” Alonso stressed, “We don’t know where to start, so we do nothing. My advice is to take smaller bites, and the sooner we start these projects the better.”
Here are three steps to prepare your home for older adulthood living—and to create a new source of income with homesharing.
Three Steps to Ready Your House for the What's Next
Decluttering your house is the cheapest way to re-envision and prepare for something new. It is inspiring, and can sometimes bring in extra cash. "People have way too much stuff—everywhere," says Alonso. "After so many years there is stuff in the cupboards, on the floor or in the closet that we haven’t touched and don’t need. It brings the whole psyche down.”
If decluttering seems overwhelming, Alonso suggests hiring a professional organizer. These pros can help you determine what to keep, donate and trash. “It makes a huge difference!” she laughs. “Now you have a clean palette to work with, and can make some money on the process. You can write off on taxes, sell in consignment stores, and use that money for the next steps."
2. Focus on the Main Floor
The main floor is where we spend most of our time, and Alonso says it's best to be able to live, eat and sleep on one floor if possible. Most American homes are built with the kitchen, living room, family room and dining room on the main floor and bedrooms upstairs. For those living with this design, Alonso suggests reconfiguring a bedroom to the main floor.
“It is fundamental to have the bedroom on the main level,” said Alonso. “The #1 cause of injury is falling down stairs. The main floor is where you spend most of our time and has the highest impact on well-being.” Alonso stresses rethinking how use the main spaces in your home. “Your house doesn’t have to be used as it was originally intended. It should serve you now. There is no reason to go upstairs when most people can have functional living all on the main floor.”
As an example, Alonso suggests transforming an unused dining room into a new master bedroom. “As we get older, the dining room is a museum room." she laughed. “No one uses it so start with that space. Simply add door, put in some curtains and add a free standing closet. And very easily a bedroom has been created with very little budget.”
3. Prepare the Upstairs for a Roommate or Tenant
Once the main floor redesign is complete, for very little investment, Alonso suggests re-designing the upstairs bedrooms into a suite for a roommate or tenant to rent for sizable extra income. “The upstairs master bedroom can be rented, with the other guest room used as their office or sitting room, and the hallway bathroom can easily be converted to a kitchenette. Suddenly, you have a sizable space for a compatible adult roommate to rent for a great price, and if you decide to sell the house, it can stay the same, or be put back to original form.”
Check out Francisca Alonso’s thoughts in the video here, further exploring techniques to turn your empty nest into a fun and profitable hobby.
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