While you’ve probably heard of the phrase “aging in place” before, you may not know that this concept has an actual definition. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aging in place is regarded as “the ability to live in one’s home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level.” If you intend on aging in place, there are several steps you should consider taking in order to prepare yourself for common changes associated with the aging process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges faced by many seniors as they age in place.
People usually tend to think of remodeling as a process meant to increase the value of a home. However, in the context of aging in place, remodeling services can make your home much more livable as you progress into your elder years. The following renovations are often suggested to improve quality of life and alleviate safety concerns.
- Ramps and step-free entrances – Stairs can create several challenges for seniors. Because many homes feature a set of stairs at the front door or porch, adding an extra ramp or walkway should make it easier to enter and exit your home when using wheelchairs, walkers, and other movement aides.
- Wide doorways – Throughout the aging process, injuries and ailments may lead to the extended use of wheelchairs, walkers, or canes. By expanding doorways and other paths through your home, you’ll be able to make sure that you aren’t constantly being obstructed simply due to the design of your home. As long as each doorway is at least 32 to 36 inches wide and flush at floor level, most wheelchairs should be able to pass through without issue.
- Lever door handles – As people age, they tend to lose grip strength and upper body strength in general. Adding lever door handles should make heavy doors easier to open while ensuring access and privacy throughout the home.
- Non-slip flooring – Slipping and falling is a very common accident – so common, in fact, that non-slip flooring is highly advisable for everyone aging in place. To prevent the hazards of slippery floors, consider replacing existing surfaces with non-slip vinyl, rubber, or cork. While these surfaces are usually quite cheap, those running tight on cash could also make do by buying a few floor rugs.
- Slip-resistant shower and bathtub surfaces – Like the floor, showers and bathtubs should also be equipped with safe surfaces that will not be as likely to lead to falling. Bath mats with suction cups, non-slip sprays, and water-resistant adhesives will all do the trick without eating into your wallet too much.
- Signage – When emergency strikes, every second counts. That’s why many seniors decide to include obvious signs both inside and outside the home that can make it easier for paramedics and other emergency responders to reach the scene immediately. Make sure that your address is clearly visible on the outside of your home and think about posting vital medical information on your refrigerator.
If you are considering home renovations, a reverse mortgage may help you afford home improvement costs.
The Danger of Malnutrition
Unlike seniors staying in assisted living facilities, independent seniors usually do not eat as regularly as they should. In fact, according to a Gallup Poll from 2012, seniors living at home spend on average $50 less on food each week than the average person. When considering factors such as the increased difficulty of driving and picking up groceries, it’s no wonder that many seniors suffer from malnutrition. At the end of day, keeping yourself healthy is of utmost importance. If picking up groceries becomes a burden, try asking family and friends to help or make use of a grocery delivery service.