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Aging in place is when a person grows old in their own home. It allows older adults to maintain their independence and better adjust to changes that come with aging.
Aging in place can improve one’s mental health too. For example, many people will feel happier as they age and maintain familiar routines. Maintaining independence when older can boost self-esteem and self-worth and improve cognitive function. The comfortability of aging in place can reduce anxiety and depression as well.
If you’re hoping to age in place and enjoy the benefits above, you need a proper home setup more than anything. These six home improvement ideas will ensure you age gracefully and safely in place.
Implement Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology is growing in popularity. The ability to automate and control your home’s temperature, appliances, lights, and other devices from a mobile device provides peace of mind and convenience.
Smart home tech is great for seniors aging in place. Many older individuals struggle with mobility issues, memory loss, and other cognitive disabilities — all of which can make manually maintaining the above incredibly challenging.
If you aren’t comfortable with technology yet, that’s your first step. After that, audit your home and determine where it could benefit from smart home tech. Defining your budget is also essential, as smart devices and appliances don’t come at a small price.
Then, thoroughly research the smart home tech you’d like to implement. Get a clear understanding of cost, use, and maintenance before making a final decision. And once your smart tech is home, get familiar with it.
Change Your Flooring
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 36 million falls reported among older adults, and 32,000 deaths result from them. These falls happen for various reasons. And you can count on slippery floors being one of them.
As beautiful as hardwood or tile floors are, they can also be super slippery. Even old, shaggy carpet is a safety hazard. Low-pile carpet, cork flooring, or Cortec plus vinyl are safer options for seniors.
First, go through your home and see which rooms need a change in flooring. Next, familiarize yourself with the safer flooring options above. Go to a flooring store to see and feel the options in person. Get an estimate for each as well.
Then, you can make your final decision and start the installation process.
Put In More Seating
Our mobility changes a lot as we age. It happens faster for some, but mobility gets limited the older we get. In addition, people aren’t able to stay on their feet as long as they used to. Both of these things make more seating essential for aging in place.
Having more seating options sprinkled throughout your home ensures you have a place to sit down and rest comfortably should you need it. Collect the following seating options over time and place them strategically throughout your home:
- Riser recliner
- Tub chairs
- Transfer benches
- Massage chair
- Small ottomans
- Plush Loveseat
- Couches with furniture risers
- Upholstered dining chairs
- Rocking chair
- Kitchen bench
- Shower chair
Make Doorways Accessible by Mobility Aid
Unfortunately, most hallways, entryways, and doorways aren’t wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids. You may use one of these aids when you reach a certain age. So, it’s smart to widen your hallways and entryways to accommodate them.
It’s best to consult a contractor, particularly one that specializes in widening entryways and hallways. Have them do a walkthrough and give you a rundown on what the widening process entails and how much it will cost.
Create space in your budget for the work, even if you have to start with one hallway at a time.
Design a First-floor Suite
You don’t necessarily have to move to a single-story home. Designing a first-floor suite is another solution. For the days you can’t brave the stairs, you can simply retire to your suite on the first floor and live comfortably until you can make it upstairs again.
Visualize what you want your room to look like on the first floor:
- Where is it located?
- Does it mirror your upstairs room, or is it entirely different?
- Do you need a master bathroom to accompany it?
- How many windows do you want?
- What about closet space?
- How can you make the suite mobility aid accessible?
Once you have a blueprint for your suite, figure out who and what you need to achieve it and how much it will cost. Your suite will likely be an ongoing project. Still, get started on it sooner than later to ensure it’s ready when you get to the age you really need it.
Prioritize Preventative Measures
You must implement measures that promote health and safety and keep up with them for years. For instance, unfortunately, cleanliness can lack as you get older, whether it’s because of a disability, a mental health challenge, a memory issue, or extreme fatigue and weakness.
This can lead to rodent infestations. Rodents can carry the Hantavirus. And when transmitted to humans, it can cause muscle aches, fever, and fatigue, with the worst cases being deadly. You must take precautions like sealing holes, using traps, and regular deep cleaning to protect your home from rodent infestations.
You can also put the following preventative measures in place:
- Home security system
- Well-lit driveway and backyard
- Securing doors and windows
- Hiring a maid or cleaning crew
- Scheduling appliance, landscaping, and security system maintenance
This is just the beginning of a long list of home improvements you can make to support aging in place. First, think about your unique needs and vision for your future life. Then, you can start with the ideas above to build a home for you to age gracefully.