Many seniors these days wish to stay in their homes as they age. In fact, an AARP study found that 76 percent of adults over age 50 hope to remain in their current house in their golden years. If your home has the appropriate features, it’s possible to successfully age in place.
Address Accessibility Concerns
The first step in future-proofing your home for senior living is to make everything as accessible as possible. This is especially important as mobility concerns mount with age. Design the accessibility aspects with walkers and wheelchairs in mind.
All hallways and doors should be at least three feet wide. For the main hallways, aim for five feet. In each room of the house, there should be ample space for a wheelchair to turn around, which typically requires five feet in all directions.
Instead of traditional door knobs, consider door hardware that uses a lever, as that is easier to operate for someone with arthritis. Touchless faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms are also worth the investment for older adults.
Since reaching up to high places can be an issue for seniors, consider lowering cabinetry, shelving, light switches, and other items that are placed more than four feet off the floor. Conversely, you should get a front-loading washing machine that is raised about a foot from the ground in order to make it more accessible.
Preferably, the living spaces in the home should all be on one level. If there are staircases in the home, consider installing a stairlift.
Take Steps to Prevent Injuries
As HomeAdvisor explains, approximately 60 percent of senior falls occur inside the home. With that startling statistic in mind, it’s very important to institute fall-prevention measures in the home where you want to age in place.
Motion-sensor lighting can help prevent falls. Adding windows to brighten the home is a great idea too, as a study by the Maturitas medical journal found that sunlight can result in many health benefits for seniors. In a dark area of the home where a window isn’t feasible, add a light fixture. It’s also advisable to replace all incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs with high lumen rating, as these bulbs are brighter and have a much longer lifespan.
Also, remove any trip hazards, such as throw rugs and electrical cords; install non-slip flooring like cork, rubber, or vinyl; and add handrails to any place in the home that has a step. Get rid of any raised thresholds between rooms. If there is carpeting, make sure it’s all in good condition, as old, damaged carpet is a leading cause of fall injuries for adults over age 65.
Bathrooms should also be a focal point. Consider investing in a walk-in tub and raised toilet seats. Put grab bars and non-slip mats by all toilets and inside tubs and showers. Make sure there’s a convenient place for toiletries that doesn’t involve excessive reaching.
Lower Maintenance Responsibilities
Don’t overlook the exterior of the home. You can take steps now to lower the required maintenance in the future. Consider low-maintenance exteriors such as brick or vinyl, and think twice before keeping a swimming pool or any water-related feature.
If you have a large lawn, consider xeriscaping instead. This type of landscaping requires much less water and little to no maintenance. Go with native plants, shrubs, and trees, as these will require less upkeep throughout the year.
Find the Right Home Remodeling Contractor
A contractor with a CAPS designation will be able to handle all of the remodeling work. These Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists will also be able to point out other potentially unsafe areas you may want to address, as they have taken educational courses regarding the best practices to help ensure safety for seniors.
If you don’t want to move into an assisted living facility or retirement community, you can stay in your current home or neighborhood as you get older. However, you will need to plan ahead and address safety concerns for older people. Aging in place is the goal for many seniors across the country, and if the right features are added to your home, you can make this goal a reality.
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