Aging in place is the process of living out your retirement at home instead of a nursing home or retirement community. And while many seniors choose to head to assisted living when their mobility becomes an issue, the fact is that community living isn’t desirable for all of us. If you prefer to be at home, then keep reading. We’ve got some tips on how to prepare now so you can make your dreams a reality later on.
The two primary risks to seniors living at home are the kitchen and bathroom. These two rooms are wet, often have slippery floors, and are where you do your most dangerous chores of cooking and bathing. Angie’s List notes that refinishing the bathtub, adding safety bars, and using a shower bench or chair are all great ways to keep yourself safe. You will also benefit from making sure to clean water from the floor and that soap and shampoo are fully rinsed from the tub before exiting. Other bathroom remodeling projects for seniors including installing a zero-entry shower and changing the layout to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.
The kitchen also needs a few accommodations to make it functional throughout your retirement years. Simple changes, such as moving your most-used staples to a lower shelf, can go a long way toward keeping you from harm. Sticking any rugs you have to the floor with double-sided adhesive strips will also help keep you from tripping and falling onto a hard floor. Cooking is a hazard, too, but not if you plan ahead. SeniorLifestyleMag.com offers suggestions on senior-friendly appliances that can allow you to be your own chef for longer.
The bedroom is one of the least expensive areas to rearrange to account for mobility and vision changes that come with age. Medical Guardian reports that simply lowering your bed, getting rid of the throw rugs, and adding a table lamp to your bedside will all increase safety in the bedroom. You’ll also want to remove any furniture that you don’t need and reposition electronics so that there are no cords in your path as you move around the room.
If you live in a multi-story home, staying put may be a little trickier, so consider moving your bedroom and living room to the main floor. Bathroom access is essential; hire a contractor to add a bathroom to the main living area if you don’t have one already. When you must navigate the stairs, keep yourself balanced by installing a sturdy railing or consider adding a chair lift. You can also increase visibility with added lighting.
Outdoor areas pose a threat to seniors, too, so don’t neglect your lawn and garden. Nearly half of all seniors falls occur outdoors at home, according to Science Daily. Spend some time filling holes in the yard and leveling uneven spots on the walkway and driveway. If you plan to be outside at night, motion-activated flood lights are a must. Install a wheelchair ramp if you have trouble lifting your feet — even if you are able to walk with ease, these gentle incline entries can make it easy to enter and exit your home.
Finally, keep in mind that you may need help at some point. Adult children and grandchildren may be able to fill the gap, but a home health aid is an excellent option, especially if you have health problems or need help bathing, dressing, and eating.
It is possible to stay where you are most comfortable, even if your home isn’t set up for seniors. With a few minor renovations, changes to your daily habits and routines, and preventative actions, you can age in place safely and happily.
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