Most seniors would prefer to age in place given the choice. It’s understandable for someone who’s lived in the same house for decades. No one wants to leave a comforting, familiar space full of memories unless they absolutely have to. As people get older, home becomes even more of a safe haven from a sometimes confusing and overwhelming world. Remaining in place can make the difference between good mental and physical health and a descent into depression. Yet aging in place may require home modifications so that accessibility doesn’t become a problem, and to keep falls and other potential in-home accidents from becoming clear and present dangers. Here are some modification ideas that can keep you living happy and healthy in the one and only place you call home.
Create more space
This is one of the easiest modifications. Creating more flow throughout your home improves accessibility and decreases the likelihood of accidents. The idea is to make sure there are clear and unimpeded walking pathways through each room. If you’re having to maneuver around furniture and clutter, accessibility is a problem. For seniors that need a mobility assistance device, like a walker or cane, being able to move around freely and without fear of falling is crucial. Put excess furniture and tripping hazards, like a footstool or low-lying coffee table, in storage or give them to a relative. Electrical cords should be covered or taped along the wall. If you have a pet, keep any toys or food dishes in a separate part of the house, tucked safely in a corner.
If you tend to use many of the same objects repeatedly every day, keep them within easy reach so you don’t have to stretch far or get on a chair or stool to reach them. If it’s keys, a broom, or handheld vacuum device, put them on a table so you can get to them without having to bend over or expend too much energy. Keep your phone nearby or in a pocket so you don’t have to go looking for it in an emergency.
Light it up
It’s hard to stay safe when you can’t see where you’re going. Falls are a real danger in a house that doesn’t have enough lighting, especially in each hallway, in the bedroom, and in the bathroom. Add lamps in the bedroom and make sure there’s enough lighting in the bathroom, an especially important factor because so many falls take place in the bathtub or shower or on the floor around the sink and toilet. Consider installing a motion sensor in the bathroom so it’s not necessary to fumble for the light switch in the dark. While you’re making the bathroom safe, make sure grab rails are installed alongside the toilet and in the bathtub, and place traction pads on the floor in front of the sink and in the tub. Consider installing a walk-in tub if mobility becomes a problem.
In and out
It can be easy to overlook doorway accessibility. Most of us take for granted that there’s plenty of room to get in and out of rooms, but a wheelchair, walker, or crutches may necessitate having doorways widened.
Sometimes, it makes more sense to find a readily accessible home to buy than trying to remake existing space. A smaller house and a downsized lifestyle can be a real blessing and a means of avoiding having to move into a senior living community. Review listings in your area to get an idea of what a new home may cost. Remember, aging in place is all about accessibility and safety. If modifying your home isn’t practical, it may be well worth your while to seek a new house that’s smaller and easier to get around in. The average listing price for a home in Naperville, Illinois, is $452,400. It may be your best option for aging in place.
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Hi My Name is Bruce Kenny and I am the owner and founder of Britannia Home Services. I am married with 3 kids and reside in Naperville Illinois.