Surveyor greeting senior woman in the doorway - wearing face mask

A new poll finds home is where most older Americans want to live, but few are taking the necessary steps to make sure they can age there safely and comfortably.

The latest University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found 88% of older adults between the ages of 50 and 80 surveyed wanted to remain in their homes for as long as possible. However, only 15% said they had given a lot of consideration to the home modifications necessary to allow them to age in place. Less than 40% had given some consideration. 

The poll also found that one in five older adults had moved within the past five years and more than half said they had relocated to a home that made it easy for them to move around. The most common features older adults sought in a home were main floor bathrooms and bedrooms. More than a third wanted wider door frames to accommodate wheelchairs. The same number wanted grab bars and raised toilet seats. 

The HomesRenewed Coalition — which includes home care firms, aging service organizations and retailers — is urging Congress to pass policies that will help pay for home modifications, so seniors can age in place. The coalition is asking Washington to allow individuals to use pre-tax retirement accounts to make aging-in-place modifications tax-free and create tax credits or deductions for homeowners who actively prepare their homes for aging in place.   

The home  increasingly is seen as part of the continuum of care as many of the nation’s 72 million baby boomers intend to age in place. Reducing fall risks are especially important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among seniors. The CDC estimates falls result in $50 billion in medical costs annually, with Medicare and Medicaid shouldering three-quarters of those expenses.