Should You Retrofit Your Home to Age in Place? By Robin Trimingham
According to a research conducted by AARP, nearly 90% of all seniors want to stay in their own home as they age. This is by no means news, in that most people usually “say” that they want to stay in their own home; what is new is that an increasing number of people are actually taking steps to adapt their homes so that they can age in place.
With the spiraling cost of assisted living facilities putting this option beyond the reach of many people, combined with an increased desire to remain independent; many people are opting to retrofit their existing homes to make their daily lives more manageable. The top reasons for adapting your living environment in later life include: diminished eyesight, decreased mobility, difficulty climbing stairs, poor balance, and a desire to make the home generally safer and more secure.
Some of the ways that you can adapt your home and your lifestyle include:
- Start by getting a “home safety survey” from an expert in eliminating hazards for seniors
- Get estimates regarding what the recommended changes will cost and them make a conversion plan that prioritizes the most urgent issues that need to be addressed and establishes a timeline that works with your budget
- Safety features such as non-slip floor surfaces
- Bathroom aides such as grab bars and “comfort height” toilets
- Personal alert systems that allow the user to call for help if they fall
- Creating a means to enter the dwelling without steps
- Widening doorways to accommodate a walker or wheel chair
- Increasing the height of electrical outlets
- Lower walk mounted light switches to enable them to be operated from a wheel chair
- Installing an elevator or chair lift
- Securing windows and doors with better locks
- Increasing perimeter outside motion detector lighting
- Installing smoke detectors
- Installing a burglar alarm system
- Installing a voice activated personal assistant such as Alexa
- Purchasing a robot vacuum
- Be realistic regarding your ability to continue driving a vehicle – eliminating driving at night and during bad weather whenever possible
- Experiment with home delivery of groceries, medications, and take out food when you are in good health so that you will not get caught shot if you are suddenly unwell or unable drive
Above all, keep your perspective. Aging is an unavoidable process, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot live a full, active vital life in your own home if you are willing to “go with the flow” and adapt your environment to best suit your physical circumstances. There is little comfort in knowing that you stood your ground and refused to all your son to install grab bars in the shower, if you slip getting into the tub and break a hip.
By Robin Trimingham