A recent study by AARP found that 75% of retirees would rather stay in their existing homes as they age - yet people often underestimate the importance of planning for tomorrow's health challenges. Most people 65 and older live in homes with stairs, and yet 40% of people in their 80’s report serious difficulty climbing stairs. Whether you are house hunting for the perfect age-in-place home, or modifying your existing house, here are six things your home should have so that you can avoid every day and potentially dangerous hazards.
Single Floor Housing
Stairs can become difficult to navigate, and even for those who can successfully manage them, stairs are a falling hazard. If you intend to age in place in a home with stairs, adding railings to both sides of the stairs can be a crucial update. Another thing to consider, if possible, is moving all necessities to the first floor, so you do not need to climb stairs.
You want to avoid climbing in and out of high-sided tubs to avoid slip-and-falls in the bathroom. Instead, walk-in showers and tubs are preferable options. Safety bars will help you lower yourself in the bathroom or maneuver in and out of a walker into the shower or tub area.
Bathrooms Modifications to Consider:
Maintaining a large yard and home as you get older becomes more challenging, and everyday maintenance can pose a risk. We all want to relax and enjoy our retirement years rather than climb a ladder to clear the gutters or shovel the snow during winter. For this reason, condominiums, and other homes with HOAs that take care of most routine maintenance needs can be a real asset to seniors.
Being able to turn your lights on and off by clapping isn't lazy; it's an intelligent way to adapt your home to your aging needs. Similarly, setting up your home to be more digital-friendly can be a great way to enable age-in-place living.
Innovative Tech for Seniors:
Door locks that can automatically open with voice or touch activation are helpful for both mobility issues and (and let’s face it, we all do it) those times when we forget our keys.
Home security systems that can be monitored from smartphones can reduce stress and ensure safety.
Smart technology appliances make it easier to do the laundry and clean the dishes, and smart ovens let your phone know when your food is ready.
Smart thermostats have the capability to adjust heating and air conditioning temperatures from your phone.
Flooring is a fundamental part of every home that must be reconsidered for safe and comfortable aging. Throw rugs can create tripping hazards. The best option is to get rid of them altogether. Another option is slip-resistant floor treatments which will help reduce the likelihood of seniors slipping on smooth wood or tiling. An epoxy or other easy-to-apply material can be purchased to create an invisible tread that can make even the most slippery tile safe.
Improve Your Flooring by Using the Following:
Car accidents become more common in the twilight years as seniors experience arthritis, vision issues, increased medication usage, and other age-related health issues that can interfere with safe driving. It's crucial to stay off the road once the risks begin to outweigh the benefits.
According to the AARP, the average senior will outlive their ability to drive by 7-10 years. For this reason, opting for a highly walkable community is critical. Otherwise, seniors can quickly become isolated in their homes and overly reliant on family and friends.
Look For Neighborhoods With:
A walk score of 70 or higher
Hazard-free and unrestricted sidewalks
Top amenities (grocery stores, church, or bus stops) that are a walkable distance from home