For many seniors, the idea of moving into care can be a daunting prospect. A 2021 study conducted by AARP found that 79 percent of US residents over 50 would choose to live in their homes indefinitely as they get older. Luckily, aging in place provides an alternative option for many seniors and can become a reality by simply making a few simple home modifications. Read on to find out more about aging in place and what changes people can make to their homes to ensure this is a smooth transition.
What is aging in place?
Aging in place is the term given to describe an aging person growing older in the residence of their choice, usually their home, for as long as possible. Aging in place usually requires a few modifications to the house and access to certain services. Therefore, aging in place is an excellent solution for seniors looking to maintain their independence with a bit of extra help.
Why should you consider aging in place?
Aging in place isn’t suitable for everyone, but it can be the ideal way to grow old if you’re the right fit. Here are a few reasons why people choose to age in place.
Maintain your independence
Aging in place allows some seniors to maintain their independence while living at home in a safe environment. Independent living is important as it helps a lot of aging people thrive.
Aging in place can be much more cost-efficient than nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This means money can be spent on the more important things.
There’s no place like home, and many seniors value the comfort of their house and would much prefer to be home rather than anywhere else. Aging in place also ensures privacy, familiarity, and a sense of peace, each being highly valued by seniors.
As they get older and enjoy more free time, aging in place also allows seniors to maintain their social network. A strong social network can be invaluable for mental and physical health as we get older, with countless benefits for the mind and overall wellbeing.
Common home modifications for seniors
Aging in place can become a reality with some simple home modifications that create safer, more functional homes for older people. Here are some common aging in place house plans and modifications.
Start with simple things like decluttering. Cleaning up removes potential trip hazards, and also allows for greater and safer mobility. While you’re at it, replace any unsteady or old future and add plastic bumpers to the sharp edges of furniture items.
Ramps are extremely helpful for assisting seniors’ mobility around the home and reducing the risk of falls. Flatten out existing steps with either a threshold, modular, or portable ramp. This makes it safer to move around the home while providing accessibility for those who use wheelchairs.
For extra support around the home, grab rails are an easy, helpful feature to install in a senior’s home. These sturdy bars can prevent falls by offering seniors, who can be unsteady on their feet, something to hold on to when standing and moving about.
Many seniors may require a walker or a wheelchair as they get older, and widening doors will significantly help with access. Moving around your home should be a comfortable and easy experience, and widening doorways is one way to enable this.
One of the main rooms requiring home modifications for seniors is the bathroom. There are several things you can do to make the space more senior-friendly.
- Installing a walk-in shower to replace a bath or the current shower is a great way to mitigate the risks of falling while climbing into a tub or shower.
- Adding a shower chair and handrails will also make the bathroom safer.
- Adding slip-resistant flooring—we all know how wet and slippery the bathroom can get, but non-slip flooring will significantly reduce the risk of a fall.
As seniors age, they may find that their kitchen setup no longer works for them. This may look like cabinetry that’s too high, hard-to-reach appliances, and tricky-to-maneuver corners. Re-doing the kitchen is a great way to ensure it is accessible for seniors to continue preparing and enjoying their own meals.
There’s nothing worse than being confined indoors, so it’s also important to make modifications to the exterior of a home so aging people can spend time outdoors safely. Some of the main things to think about include:
- Lighting: install lighting near doors, steps and pathways to ensure safe mobility when it’s dark, as well as added security.
- Pathways: Ensure pathways and sidewalks are level, free of clutter and perhaps consider increasing their width to improve access and mobility.
- Doors: Make entering and exiting the home as easy as possible by replacing door knobs with an easy to use lever handle. Or, consider a keyless lock system, which can be useful as seniors may become more forgetful overtime—keys are hard to remember at the best of times!
Maintaining the garden is one of the hardest things to stay on top of for aging people, but some useful modifications mean that the garden can stay looking in top shape. Installing an automatic sprinkler system, replacing current plants with low-maintenance plants and replacing grass with artificial grass are some ways to help maintain a tip-top garden.
Smart home devices
Smart home devices are new, innovative tools that are extremely helpful in helping seniors live in their homes safely. Several different types of smart home devices can help seniors around the house.
Difficulty locating light switches or forgetting to turn lights off are serious challenges for older people. Forgetting to turn off light switches can result in a hefty electricity bill. In contrast, difficulty finding them may increase the risk of falls and make it difficult to maneuver at night. Smart lighting works by replacing existing bulbs with smart light bulbs controlled by a centralized internet-connected hub. Smart lighting allows lighting to be remotely adjusted from an app or control panel and allows for automated lighting schedules.
Assisted technology also makes aging in place much safer for seniors. Some examples include home monitoring systems that include medical alerts, activity monitoring, and assistive seating devices. These systems are extremely valuable and require no permanent changes to the home.
Similarly, voice-controlled devices such as Google Home and Siri are some other great features seniors can take advantage of. These systems can help seniors with automated lighting and set reminders for medication and appointments. It will also ease daily tasks such as ordering groceries and making calls. The best thing about these devices is that they are super easy to set up and use.
Another essential feature to consider for those thinking about aging in place is a home warranty plan. Securing a home warranty takes a huge amount of stress off senior people and their families, knowing their appliances will always be functional, especially heating and cooling, which can present a real danger to seniors.
AHS Home Warranty plans offer peace of mind for seniors who are aging in place. We cover the cost when home appliances and systems wear out, and if we can’t repair the covered item, we’ll replace it.
Age safely and happily at home
Aging is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of safety and happiness. Many seniors are much more content to age in place, however, safety risks can arise. Luckily, a number of home modifications can be implemented to ensure seniors age with dignity in the place they hope to call home for the rest of their journey.