Many older people choose to stay in their own homes as they age. The benefits of established social networks, community support, and recreational activities can make a big difference in physical and mental wellbeing. Many people also want to stay at home because they are familiar with their surroundings which can make adapting to changes in older age easier. However, as health needs and independence changes with age, you may need different support to continue living in your home.
Adapting for the future
Having a house that is adaptable for future needs, such as one that incorporates universal design features or that can be renovated to meet your mobility or health requirements, will allow you to continue living in your own home. You can find information on what aspects of your home may need to be adapted at Smarter Homes. You can also find information on improving the safety around your home on our Falls Prevention page. Some simple adaptations that can help accommodate your needs as you get older include:
- Use non-slip mats in shower and bath
- Install grab bars in bathrooms
- Use a shower seat
- Install a light switch that can be reached from bed or keep a torch nearby
- Keep lights on in areas you need to walk at night
- Install night lights in bathrooms or hallways
- Avoid rugs that slide or bunch up
- Do not have any cords or clutter that cover walkways
- Use handrails on steps
- Have a phone in the bedroom
You can also read our universal design page and our falls prevention page.
If you have a disability, you may be eligible for funding for housing modifications that are necessary for you to continue safely living at home. You can find more information about this on the Ministry of Health website.
House and garden maintenance
Keeping up with house repairs, maintenance, and gardening may be difficult as you age. It is important to stay on top of maintenance needs to stop minor issues becoming big and expensive problems. More information on keeping up with maintenance and repairs can be found on our page here. You can contact your local Age Concern who can put you in touch with the best local tradesperson or handy person to work on your home.
It is extremely important to ensure that your house is warm, dry, and healthy as you get older. If you have an older house or hold a Community Services Card, you may be eligible for a grant for installing insulation or an efficient heat source such as a heat pump. You can find out more information about Warmer Kiwi Homes on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) website.
If you have a garden space that you can no longer manage but do not want to hire a professional for regular upkeep, you may consider renting out your garden or asking a neighbour if they would like to use the space in return for some of the produce.
Rates postponement, deferral, and rebates
If you have difficulty paying rates because of personal circumstance, you may be eligible for a rates rebate. This is a partial refund of your rates based on your income. You can find more about rates rebates and your eligibility here or by contacting your local council.
Some councils may let you postpone or defer paying your rates. You may choose to put off payments until you sell your property, move into residential care, pass away, or at a later date that is agreed upon with your council. You can find more information about postponing or deferring rates here. To find out if your council offers postponement or deferral of rates, contact your local council.
Share your home with others
If your home is too big to manage by yourself, you may want to consider living with others or renting out rooms. This can be a great way to stay social as well as give you opportunities to share cooking, cleaning, and gardening chores and to split the costs of hiring household help and paying bills.
If your health needs or mobility changes, you may find that you need some extra assistance in your home. Many communities offer services that support your independence and help you to maintain the lifestyle of your choice. To understand what services, subsidies, and assistance may be available for you, you will need to contact a Needs Assessment Service Coordination agency.