Much of what life throws your way is beyond your control. While some of the changes that go with aging are inevitable, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your independence. With some plans and preparations, you can set your sights on safely aging in place.
The Comforts of Home
We normally associate ease and comfort with our homes, but as we grow older, a home built with traditional design concepts can be challenging to navigate. Aging can make it difficult to climb stairs, and recovering when you get off-balance can be more difficult as well. With that in mind, making some home modifications can help keep you safe.
Creating a living arrangement on your main floor is important for aging in place, complete with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and laundry area. Sometimes this means converting a bonus room into the laundry, or installing machines in a closet. Creating a step-free entryway is another key concern. Installing a ramp can alleviate issues with steep steps, and there are several aesthetically pleasing designs to choose from these days. An aluminum ramp will cost your around $100 and $135 per foot.
Older homes often have small bathrooms, and making them more accessible can be crucial for aging in place. Accessible bathroom remodels can be especially extensive, especially if you have little floor space, a standard vanity, and a large, traditional tub. A barrier-free room is ideal, which should include enough floor space to navigate with an assistive device and anti-slip flooring. Grab bars are a must, and some Medicare Advantage plans will cover their installation. Unfortunately, at this time, grab bars are not covered by Original Medicare.
It helps to go through your home and do a thorough assessment. You can use an aging-in-place checklist to determine your needs. If you have a number of changes, hiring a professional contractor is normally in order. Depending on the scope of the work, you may be able to hire a local handyman to help you make some of these modifications. A handyman in Shakopee typically charges $237 – $450 per project.
Avoid Stumbles and Tumbles
In addition to structural changes, consider whether you need to do some decluttering. Many people have slipping and tripping hazards in their homes, and seniors can be particularly susceptible to them. Eliminate or secure throw rugs so they don’t catch you off-guard, and clear the walkways throughout your home. Consider removing objects you could snag a toe on, such as magazine racks and ottomans. The more you can open up your floors, the better.
Light Up Your Life
Fading vision can go hand-in-hand with growing older. With that in mind, making some improvements to your home’s lighting can be a boon, especially in walkways, landings, and hallways which are dim. Simple changes, like adding night lights, table lamps, and brighter light bulbs can help you maneuver more safely. Consider some task lighting where you perform involved activities. For instance, added lighting in the bathroom can help when taking medications, and in the kitchen, under-cabinet lighting helps with food prep.
Stretch Your Legs
It might seem counter-intuitive to suggest exercising for seniors, especially after acknowledging balance concerns and waning eyesight. However, staying physically active can ward off some of the changes that contribute to falls and lost independence. As Berkeley Wellness explains, exercising can help build strength and improve balance. You can pick up a few pieces of equipment for your home, such as an elliptical machine (these range from $100 to over $1,000) and dumbbells, and do some walking in your neighborhood. If you have access to a swimming pool, aquatic exercises are especially easy on your joints. Joining a gym adds the bonus of having an instructor to guide you while also complementing your social life and adding more variety to your workout routine.
Aging in place might require a few changes but altering your house and lifestyle can be keys to remaining at home as you grow older. Consider what changes could help you remain safe and independent. With the right choices, you can age in place comfortably.