Aging in Place: How to Make Sure Your Home Fits Your Needs As You Age
Ask a group of seniors approaching retirement what their ideal retirement looks like, and you’re likely to get a slightly different answer from each and every one. For some, an active retirement community with resort-like amenities is the ultimate goal. For others, nothing holds the same allure as home sweet home.
Aging in place is a practical option for older adults in generally good health, especially if they’re already living in an age-friendly home (or a home that can be easily modified for better senior safety).
If aging in place is your idea of retirement bliss, it’s never too early to begin planning for your future. Preparing your home for what lies ahead is an important aspect of those preparations, including researching and budgeting for the aging in place home modifications you may need to make in order to ensure your safety and comfort for years to come.
No-Cost and Low-Cost Modifications
Some of the changes you’ll need to make over time require a little elbow grease and minimal investment. Some examples include:
- Removing rugs and tripping hazards
- Moving furniture to create wider, safer walkways
- Eliminating clutter, whether by getting rid of things or creating a better storage system
- Improving lighting with brighter bulbs and more lamps or light fixtures
- Adding grab bars in the bathroom and other frequently used areas, such as next to a favorite chair
- Acquiring assistive devices like a shower stool or grabber that will make it easier and safer to complete daily activities
- Replacing old tension-style toilet paper holders with a bar style that allows you to easily slide off an empty roll
- Making kitchen cabinets more accessible by installing pull-out shelving
- Reorganizing kitchen cabinets so the items you use most frequently are well within reach
Modifications with a Moderate Price Tag
Other ideas for aging in place home design may require a bit more effort and expense but are still relatively attainable, especially if you plan ahead:
- Replacing the toilet with a taller model
- Updating flooring to add non-slip texture
- Constructing a ramp to bypass the stairs at the home’s entrance
- Replacing a standard tub with a walk-in style tub or curbless shower
- Moving light switches and outlets to more accessible locations
- Swapping switches that require precise fine motor skills for rocker panels, push knobs, or sliders
- Replacing traditional door knobs with levers that are easier to grasp
- Installing smart technology that allows you to control locks, lights, the thermostat, and more from a device like your smartphone or tablet
Modifications Requiring a Significant Investment
Depending on the age of your house, you may not have features that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or you may need to consider other changes to make essential areas more accessible. Projects on this scale could include:
- Widening doorways or halls to accommodate a walker or wheelchair
- Adding a first-floor bedroom so you don’t have to rely on stairs
- Building a deck or patio space where you can get out of the house and enjoy fresh air and natural light (perhaps with space for a small container garden)
Keep Maintenance in Mind, Too
While safety and function are top priorities, remember that aging in place means you’ll still be responsible for maintaining your home. That’s why it’s a good idea to think about upgrades that will stand the test of time, such as siding that eliminates the need for painting your exterior. It’s also smart to consider the condition of your roof and how to modify your landscaping so it requires less tending over time.
Explore Other Resources
Successfully aging in place isn’t just about your physical environment. Resources like Springpoint at Home can provide valuable services that help you retain your independence and maximize your quality of life in the comfort of your own home. Another option is Springpoint Choice, a membership program that allows you to continue aging in place in the short term, while providing a solid plan for the future if your healthcare needs change. Contact us to learn more about our supportive senior care services. Learn how Springpoint at Home can help you with your needs as you age in place!