Modifying your home

What can you do to make life easier? Lots of things, many of which aren’t expensive but will make retirement more comfortable at home…

What sort of changes can I make to my home?

As you get older and your body begins to slow, everyday tasks that were previously easy may become more difficult. Modifications to your home like a stair lift can be the difference between staying put, moving to a bungalow or even to care. So if and when that time comes, these kinds of adaptations can help you to stay independent for longer:

  • Make stairs easier – for inside your home, think about installing a stair lift or if you have stairs outside, it could be a case of swapping them for a ramp. You could also add specialist banisters to those tricky corners on staircases.
  • A safer bathroom – think about products that can help you get into the bath more safely, like a bath board or a swivel chair. You can install grab rails and put down a non-slip mat to prevent falls. Consider a commode if you only have one toilet in your home and stairs are involved.
  • Help to reach up high – if you find it increasingly hard to open cupboards and windows, you can look at buying step stools or household aids like window openers.
  • Stop bending down low – you can buy picking up aids to help you avoid stooping down too often. Plus you can even have remote control plug sockets or light fittings installed.
  • Add greater security – for greater confidence living alone, you can think about getting a personal alarm in case you need help suddenly. Other safety aspects include improved outside lighting, peep holes in doors and security chains or locks.  

How will I pay for these modifications to my home?

The changes you make to your home could be minimal or extensive – for example, if you have to add a downstairs bedroom to your house. These can be expensive, so it’s important to plan ahead. Some financial assistance is available for those on low incomes, so make sure you claim anything you can.

Disabled Facilities Grant

If you need to carry out essential work like door widening or ramp fitting in your home, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant. This is up to £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales. Anyone can apply for this grant, but whether you get it or not will depend on your individual income and savings. You’ll need to know what changes are required before applying and how much it will cost. If you’re not sure what you need, an occupational therapist can help to make recommendations.

Home Improvement Agencies

If you’re on a low income, a Home Improvement Agency might be able to help you get started with your home improvements. These are not-for-profit organisations run by housing and local authorities and charities. They can give you advice and assistance about how you can improve your home (rented or private) and even install security measures or make repairs for you.  

Everyone wants to stay in their own homes for as long as they can. You might not want to picture yourself using a stair lift just yet, but it could be a lifesaver later on. Be prepared to keep an open mind and try to explore all your income options for retirement while you’re still working.