Would you like to remain in your own home as you grow older? According to the AARP, that is a desire for many older Americans. If this is a goal you have in mind, it’s in your best interest to do some planning and preparing.
Examine your home
Is your living environment one that could support you as you grow older? Most traditionally designed homes aren’t structured in a manner conducive to aging in place. For example, you want a home that allows you to live on one level, has an open floor plan, and has at least one no-step entryway. Wider than standard doorways and hallways are also helpful, and you should have wide windows to allow in abundant natural light. You can use this checklist from 2020 Spaces to examine your home and see how closely it fits aging in place criteria. This step can also help you determine if you would be better off downsizing or if it’s time to make plans for home modifications.
Hone in on the bath
Bathrooms deserve extra attention when examining your home environment, as they can be one of the most challenging rooms for senior safety. It’s a room fraught with hazards, between the slippery surfaces, water, and soap, and as a result, seniors are at high risk for bathroom-related falls. Thankfully, there are several changes you can make to help lower your risk. Refinishing your tile so it’s less slick, as well as adding a shower chair and replacing your toilet with a senior-friendly version. Also consider installing grab bars, and a zero-entry shower or walk-in tub.
Some easy changes
Certain aspects of traditional homes that can make aging in place challenging are relatively easy to work around. For instance, if the primary entryway to your home requires climbing steps, you can have a ramp installed to make it easier to come and go. Similarly, doorways can be widened, and round door knobs can be replaced with lever-style handles. If your current living arrangement is spread between multiple floors, consider revamping a dining area or office space to become a bedroom. Turning a bathroom into a bathroom and laundry combination can help get things onto one floor as well, or consider installing a washer and dryer in a closet. If you decide you need to hire help with your remodel, Forbes recommends finding a contractor who specializes in aging in place.
Add some gadgetry
While sometimes seniors are intimidated by it, smart home technology can be a boon to those wishing to age in place. There are unobtrusive wearable monitors that call for help if something is awry, lights that come on when you enter a room, and devices to remind you about taking medications. There are also tech tools that ease communication with your loved ones, such as social media, video conferencing, and email. If you don’t feel savvy enough, there are special classes seniors can take to get more comfortable with whatever gadgetry they are using.
Beyond your home
In addition to making changes to your living environment, there are other choices that could influence whether you age in place comfortably. Exercising to maintain your strength, flexibility, and balance can make a big impact in your ability to stay upright if you get off-kilter. Yoga can be an ideal exercise regimen for seniors who wish to age in place, since it helps build muscles and encourages improved balance and flexibility. If you prefer to mix things up, another idea is to do a varied exercise regimen, focusing part of your time on strength training, part on cardio, and part on stretching. Find a routine you enjoy doing, and stick with it!
Do you hope to age in place? Take a look at your home and your life, and decide if some changes are in order. With some planning and preparation, you can stay in your home, enjoying comfort, safety, and support for years to come.
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