Aging in place is desirable for most people, given how it allows you to continue living your life normally. Since the goal of aging in place is to preserve autonomy and allow people to live in their own homes for as long as possible, lifestyle or home changes should be centered around improving functionality and increasing independence. Here are some easy accessibility modifications you can use to safely and gracefully age in place.
The National Institute on Aging suggests installing grab bars in the bathtub or shower to help maintain balance and keep you steady in an area where the risk of slipping and falling is high. Grab bars are highly useful and typically easy to install. Additionally, they won’t require large remodels and can help you maintain your budget.
Install a Ramp
For those whose mobility is decreasing, a ramp is a must. You might find yourself using a wheelchair more often, or even just a simple walker. A ramp can help you with any mobility difficulty and is another modification that doesn’t require completely revamping your home. The average national cost of installing a ramp is between $1,500-$3,250.
Remodel the Bathroom
Instead of remodeling your entire house, try a small remodel of the bathroom. Hire someone who specializes in remodeling bathrooms for seniors. Enlarging the doorway and shower or installing non-slip tile, for example, can help remove common bathroom hazards and keep you safe. You can also put a seat in the bathing area, which will help you from slipping. The average cost to remodel a bathroom is around $9,000.
Move to the Main Floor
According to an article in the Washington Post, having a master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor is one of the best ways to age in place because it offers an alternative to constantly climbing stairs. If possible, move to the main floor of your house so you can have all your important things in the same area. It can also save you a lot of energy.
Get some non-slip rugs or pads for high-traffic areas in your home. You can also get plastic floor runners or protectors that can help you walk more easily throughout your house. These are affordable and easy to find, plus it saves you some effort on cleaning your carpet.
Drawers and pullouts are easier to handle than kitchen cabinets. They’re also less likely to bonk you in the head and potentially hurt you. Try to also find covers for knives and other sharp utensils you may use, just for some extra caution.
Add Extra Light
Decreased photoreceptors in the eyes, glaucoma, cataracts, and hardening of the lens often accompany aging. Lighting is also extremely important as we age. Add some extra light and lamps throughout your house, especially in areas that might have more danger and potential for slipping. This will help you have a cheerier house and protect you from any danger.
Smart Home Technology
Smart home products can be easily integrated into a person’s living space. From thermostats to smoke detectors to security systems. These products can not only provide convenience, but also an added layer of safety. Some devices can contact family members to check in or give reminders for medication or appointments, and some emerging technology can even help with fall detection. If you are unfamiliar with smart home technology, ask a loved one to help you install some of these features. Smart home technology can take care of things so you don’t have to worry about them.
Paying for Modifications
The cost for home accessibility modifications can add up, which may mean you’re either going to need to dip into your savings or apply for a loan. If you opt for a remodel in your hallways, bathroom or kitchen, it’s likely a conventional loan with the option for a refinance cash-out is your best bet. You can use the equity in your home to help pay for home improvements and possibly even lower your monthly payment.
Reports suggest that many baby boomers and retirees want to live in their homes for as long as possible, but their homes are often not equipped for aging individuals. This is why it’s important to start preparing now for whatever problems or issues might arise. It’s worth the investment to make modifications on your home to help you age in place and have a high quality of life.
Written by Michael Longsdon of elderfreedom.net