Are you tired of worrying about losing your independence as you age? What if I told you there's a way to stay in your own home and maintain your quality of life? Today we'll discuss the secrets to successful aging in place home modifications. From safety to accessibility, we'll cover it all. Plus, stick around for information to start aging in place now! Let's get started!
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aging in place is defined as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. Around 90 percent of seniors plan on living in their own home for at least five to 10 years AFTER turning 65, according to the AARP.
1: Home modifications for safety
We want to think about common safety concerns with older adults. Your body usually doesn't quite work as well as it once used to so you want to think about slips trips falls and burns.
It's more difficult to get up and down so you want to make it more possible that you don't have to do that as much. Installing grab bars is a great thing because that helps you get up and down. You can put them beside toilets, beside the bed, in the shower - anywhere that's possible you're going to be getting up and down from. Make sure the grab bars can hold at least 250 pounds so they're for varying sizes of people and they are all the way in the studs and not just in the drywall.
Non-slip flooring is ideal, so if your bathroom has tile, you can put a coating on it that's non-slip and that'll last several years. You can just roll it on like paint and then you're covered. If you've got carpet in your home, make sure it's really low pile so it's less likely to trip on.
2: Home modifications for accessibility
Mobility can become an issue as people age. They just don't move like we want them to, or if it does, it hurts!
Other than getting up and down, you may need a walker, cane, or wheelchair to get across the house, so you want to think about home modifications to increase your ability to get around.
Something major would be widening doorways and hallways. You can also install chair lifts, stair lifts, elevators and ramps inside and outside the home. If there's an addition there might be a step down; you'd want to put a ramp there and to eliminate also a trip hazard going up and down.
Stairs can be hard to balance on as well as just another way to catch your foot and trip, so it is something fairly simple you can fix. Adding ramps is mostly inexpensively without too much effort. Widening your doorways and your hallways might be a little more difficult but it's still a possibility to make your home more accessible.
3: Home modifications for comfort and convenience
Think of home modifications which can improve quality of life, like walk-in bathtub or lowering light switches so they are easier to reach. It's not really a need but it would be nice to have. Think about doorknobs or faucets: a lot of those are round knobs and if you have arthritis, it's sometimes hard to get your fingers to cooperate. If you have the lever type handle or faucets, you can use your whole hand to move it. You would also want to have more lighting in your house: have a lamp on the bedside, have a lamp beside the couch and the chair, more lights underneath the cabinets in the kitchen; anything to make it less likely you're going to have a trip or a fall or have to get up and go turn on the main light switch.
Another great idea is to put a heat lamp in the bathroom. As you transition from taking your clothes off to getting in the bathtub it may take you longer in case your body doesn't cooperate so the heat lamp in the bathroom would help you maintain your body temperature as you're getting in. When you're all wet and getting out, it helps you be more comfortable.
By using these modifications, daily tasks become easier and more comfortable. Some of these are inexpensive: switching out door knobs, light bulbs obviously; walk-in bathtub is going to be much more expensive. It would be something you'd have to put into your budget. Check out this link for the best walk-in tubs from caring.com.
4: Cost and funding options
Home modifications can be quite costly but considering assisted living costs $50,000/year and most aging in place home modifications can be done under $10,000, I know which one I would be picking! It's less expensive and I get to stay in my house.
Think about those potential costs when you're looking at home modifications. To give you estimated costs for anything that you're thinking about doing, check out this link on consumer affairs. There are places you can get loans or grants to do these home modifications to your home. You can do a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. With the rural development (USDA), (you can get loans to purchase a home) also has a program for grants to make improvements to your home.
These are available not only for Aging in place but any repairs you need. If you can't afford to put your roof on, things like that and that can be a grant. If you sell your home in just a couple years, you're probably going to have to pay it back but if you stay in your home another five, ten years, it might go away. Check out those available because you definitely want to be able to stay in your place any way possible. The best way to do the improvements would be by saving up but if you need something right away, to be able to stay in your home, then those options are available.
5. Aging in place takes into consideration not only home modifications but other areas of your life
Technology can play a vital role in maintaining independence. Smart home technology is just getting started to make everyone's life easier. They even have monitors you can put on your bed, so you know when someone gets up and out of it. You can put notifications on your medicine cabinet so your daughter who is 100 miles away knows you opened it and are taking your medication. There are wearable devices so if you fall you can notify someone easily you need help. Telemedicine is available so if you don't have the ability to drive easily or you have to call somebody to help you get to the doctor, instead you can use your phone or computer.
Social Support: Staying connected with friends, family, and community is important for overall well-being. Aging sometimes leads to social isolation, so social clubs and volunteer work can help keep at bay. Find something you enjoy and volunteer, just to keep your life interesting and have a purpose. It's very important for everyone but especially as you age and you're less likely to go out; you won't have your job or your kids, even your grandkids moved away.
Home Healthcare: As people age, they may require more specialized medical care. We have many offices who provide care and support for those who prefer to age in place, rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. They can be there, helping you taking your medicine every day, helping you care for your body, getting dressed and just moving around within your home. Home Health can be really great before you may have to take use an assisted living program.
Emotional, physical and Mental Health: Life can be emotionally challenging for anyone, and it can be more so the older we get. Find someone to talk to so you have well rounded health, like counseling, bible study or support groups. Consider this part of your life; staying involved, talking to people - all of it's important for your life and to get happiness out of every day!
Aging in place can be accomplished with a few changes for maintaining independence and improving YOUR quality of life. Have you made aging in place home modifications I didn't mention today? Let me know so I can share, and others can benefit from your experience. Learn more about other possibilities as you outgrow your home in this video Why downsizing in retirement might be a terrible idea or download this information to help you start making changes now! Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!