January 31, 2018
This is how you can do incremental home improvements as you get older so you can stay in your home as you age in place.
As the kids leave the nest and parents reclaim their homes, many come to contemplating their future living space. Couples can be proactive discuss options on home improvements. The concept is focused on successfully aging in place. Instead of doing unnecessary cosmetic upgrades try considering what you can do to your home to make it easier to live in when you are older. Make security and stability not aesthetics the primary motivation.
The first question is are you going to downgrade your big family home to a smaller home or rental unit. That’s a huge question but lets assume that you choose to stay in the home you raised your kids in.
Try doing these home improvements to help you live comfortably in your own home as you age with dignity.
Put railings everywhere both inside and outside – this makes things much safer. Put them in the bathroom next to the toilet, across from the toilet. Handrails increase safety.
Upgrade lighting to make moving around the house easier. Swap out the old incandescent bulbs with ultra white light LEDs.
Update the shower; get a walk in tub as it’s the safest thing you could use. Slip and falls in the bathroom can cause serious injury to the head and hip especially – both extremely important.
Accessibility is key so make shelves pull out on rails instead of having to dive in for whatever is needed.
Stairs are bad news. I know of my own wife’s grand parents falling down the stairs more than once. They were too stubborn to stop doing laundry in their basement. Move your master bedroom to the first floor. Move everything to the first floor so you can avoid the stairs.
Add low angle ramps and increase the width of doorways for wheelchair and bed access. In the future rooms may need to be accessed with a bed for example.
Replace smooth tile, wood or laminate flooring with carpet or slip resistant floor strips for improved traction and safety.
Utilize an in home care service when the time is right. Where I live there are a few local places including Extra Hand In Home Care in Rancho Cucamonga.
Nevertheless “aging in place” is not simply about adding ramps and railings. Nearly 50% of homeowners in their 70’s and older said they began improving their dwelling early with the anticipation that they would remain in their home indefinitely.
Now is the time to speak to your family whether it be your spouse, or children and make a plan. Make a choice and plan for it. Decide where you see yourself at age 80, at age 90. How do you see yourself playing out in your current situation?
Here is a checklist from A Place For Mom on making your home safe.
By Laurent Santos
Laurent Santos is an aging in place expert having helped over a dozen individuals age in place. Laurent is originally from Belgium and has since relocated to California.