How to Pay for Home Modifications
According to the AARP, 87% of seniors are planning to stay in their own homes as they age. That makes aging in place one of the biggest trends in senior living, but it’s a choice that presents some significant challenges.
The reason so many seniors end up living in assisted living facilities and nursing homes is because families worry about how safe aging in place is for their loved ones. Houses are usually built with the young in mind, so making them safe and comfortable for seniors can take some work.
A number of the home modifications that make aging in place safe are fairly simple and affordable, but some homes need bigger changes that can get expensive. If you’re not sure how to cover the cost of the home modifications you know you need, you may have some options for either bringing your costs down or getting a little extra money to help out.
Most of the resources here won’t pay for expensive home modifications in full and not everyone will qualify for them, so do keep your expectations realistic. But if you can offset the cost even a little bit, it may make the difference in being able to stay safe in your own home.
Ways to Get Money for Home Modifications
If you qualify, you may be able to get financial aid from one or more of these sources.
Area Agencies on Aging
The Older Americans Act sets aside funds for programs designed to help seniors maintain independence in a home environment, which can include providing help with the cost of home modifications and repairs. You can search the database at Eldercare.gov to find local services or call at 1-800-677-1116 to get more information about what’s available and how eligibility works.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible for Home and Community Based Service Waivers (HCBS). The HCBS waiver program exists to help seniors on Medicaid who prefer to receive long-term care in their homes rather than an institution, in cases where the cost of doing so is lower than a stay in assisted living would be. If the home modifications you need are deemed necessary to allow you to age at home, they may be covered under the program.
The resources available through Medicaid vary considerably in different states, so talk to a local representative to see what your options are.
One benefit available to veterans is veteran-directed care, which allows eligible veterans to access Home and Community Based Services with a flexible budget that they and their caregiver can determine the best way to spend.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs also offers a HISA (Home Improvements and Structural Alterations) grant that veterans can apply for. The grant provides up to $6,800 for home alterations if your condition is considered at least partially service connected, or $2,000 if it’s non-service connected.
Grants and Loans
A few grants are available to help seniors with the cost of home modifications:
- The Department of Agriculture provides a Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program for low-income seniors.
- org offers a Self-Sufficiency grant for families that typically don’t qualify as low income, but still need financial assistance.
- For seniors with Parkinson’s disease, local chapters of the American Parkinson Disease Association often offer grants to members of the community with the disease.
- The US Department of Agriculture has a Single Family Housing Repair grant available to qualifying low-income families.
- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development offers home improvement loans.
In addition to these, check with local organizations in your area about grants they offer. Many local Elks and Lions club chapters offer grants to members of their local communities, and you may find other organizations in your community willing to help.
Long-Term Care Insurance
If you had the foresight to invest in long-term care insurance, then your plan may cover some of the costs of home modifications that enable aging-in-place. Check on your plan details to see what your options are.
For seniors that have already paid off their home and don’t intend to leave it to loved ones, a reverse mortgage allows you to access the equity you’ve paid into your home. You can put that money toward any improvements the house needs to make it safe, as well as day-to-day living expenses.
Rebuilding Together is a non-profit devoted to helping low-income people make home improvements and home modifications they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. If they have an affiliate in your area, you may be able to get the home improvements you need for free with their help.
Ways to Save Money on Home Modifications
In addition to getting some money to help with the costs, there are a few methods you can try that could save you money on the home modifications you invest in.
Sometimes contractors will take your age and income into consideration when quoting for a project and may be willing to offer reduced rates. It never hurts to ask.
Get quotes from a few different local contractors to see how they compare before making a decision and ask each if they’d consider a reduced rate based on your level of need.
If the home modifications you make are considered medical expenses by the IRS, you may be able to deduct the expenses when you’re doing your taxes. Some of the home modifications eligible for deduction include ramp installation, vertical lifts, elevators, grab bars and hand bars, and doorway widening.
Check with your accountant to see if the home modifications you’re considering (or those already completed) qualify for tax deductions that will save you money this tax season.
Used medical equipment will cost you much less than buying something new. For items like stairlifts and ramps, check websites like Disabled Dealer, along with the usual suspects for resale items like Craigslist and ebay.
Also get in touch with your local hospitals or companies in your area that sell the type of medical equipment you need, they may be able to point you toward places in town that offer good deals or let you know about used items they have around that you can buy at a good price.
Do be careful with buying recycled equipment to inquire about the wear and tear of the product and how long and often it was in use before. Buying a used product usually means you won’t be able to take advantage of any warranty that the original buyer may have been able to use, so you want to be confident the product is in reasonably good condition before you buy.
The home modifications you need may seem out of financial reach, but once you start digging into the resources available and finding ways to save, you may find it much easier to fit the cost into your budget. With the high costs of assisted living and nursing home care today, the investment in home modifications for aging in place may well save you a lot of money in the long run.