The Best Advice for Seniors Who Want to Age in Place
By Hazel Bridges
Photo credit: Pixabay
Most of us would prefer to stay in our homes throughout our golden years. With some basic modifications, most houses can accommodate that desire. Here is how to age in place comfortably and safely.
Aging in place. Many of us want to stay home as we grow older. Staying home is a realistic option, but most homes require modifications to safely accommodate aging in place. As our bodies age, mobility can wane, and eyesight can fade. With some practical alterations, you can stay happy and healthy right where you are.
Evaluate your environment. What will you need to create a safe environment for your golden years? Start by making a careful evaluation of your home. You’ll want to think in terms of preventing falls and accommodating limited mobility. Here are some basic home modifications for seniors to think about:
- Open floor space. By clearing pathways and broadening floor space, you allow more freedom of movement. If you should need a walker or wheelchair, even temporarily, the added elbow room can mean smoother navigation. Rearrange furniture to allow for more space, and sell what you no longer need for some extra spending money, or your can use the savings to invest in other modifications.
- Eliminate tripping hazards. Items close to your floor can trip you up, especially as your mobility, eyesight, and balance fade. Remove or secure area rugs, eliminate magazine racks and ottomans, and cover or secure cords so they are safely away from footpaths.
- Add lighting. Improving your lighting is a simple and effective way to help you age in place. Add light fixtures and install brighter bulbs. Also add nightlights, especially in the bedroom and bathroom areas.
- Improve footing. Traction can make a big difference in your safety, especially in bathrooms. Consider adding nonslip flooring or traction strips.
- Taller commode. Many seniors struggle with toilet height. Installing a taller seat is an easy and effective way to improve accessibility.
- Replace handles. Doorknobs and faucet handles can be difficult to grip and operate if your mobility becomes impaired. Installing lever-style handles is a simple fix.
- Install grab bars. Your bathroom is a hazardous area, especially as you age. With slippery surfaces and water combined, falls can be a serious concern. Install grab bars (your basic grab bar can be purchased for $13.93) for getting around the bathroom to add to your safety. Consider adding them to your hallway and bedroom area as well.
Hiring the work. Will you make the modifications yourself, or do you need to hire a pro? Sometimes finding a reliable home contractor is a daunting prospect, but it’s a key to ensuring projects are finished correctly. Talk with people you know to get references for contractors. Then make a list of your desired modifications and talk specifically with potential contractors about costs. Choose someone with experience making those modifications and check the credentials. Don’t pay more than 10 percent up front, and get everything in writing. If you need to hire a local handyman to make modifications in Escondido, you can expect to pay between $117 and $480, depending on how much work is involved.
Think smaller. Sometimes a smaller and more manageable home is the key to aging in place. If your kids are grown and your nest is bigger than you really need, having less to tend and one-floor living can be a boon. CNBC recommends downsizing to ease into your golden years, and it may be an opportunity to change up your lifestyle. If it’s time to move closer to the golf course or closer to your grandkids, think in terms of finding a home you can grow old in. If it’s time to downsize, you can search for an accessible home, already set up for you to age in place. When searching for a smaller home in your area, review listings to get an idea of what it might cost to buy a new home. The median sales price for a home in Escondido is $490,000.
Home sweet, safe home. With some basic modifications, you can safely stay in your home as you age. Evaluate what changes will be needed and do some research before hiring a contractor or downsizing. You can enter your golden years with a home that will keep you safe and comfortably.