“Aging in place” refers to one remaining in his or her own home as they age, as opposed to moving into a nursing home, retirement community, or some other assisted living facility. More and more older adults are choosing this option because those who age in place tend to have the best quality of life compared to those admitted into assisted living.
However, aging in place isn’t right for everyone, and it’s not as simple as “remaining in your own home.” The key to successfully aging in place is to do so safely and comfortably. With that being said, certain home renovations may have to take place.
#1: Bathroom Modifications
Senior citizens are at higher risk of falls than the rest of the population, with the majority of falls occurring in the home— and the majority of home falls occurring in the bathroom. Getting in and out of the bathtub/shower becomes harder at this age, so it’s a good idea to install handrails and maybe even a shower chair to reduce the risk of falling.
A walk-in shower or bathtub would be even more ideal. Toilets and sinks may need to be adjusted to a higher and lower setting, respectively, for optimal comfort.
Unfortunately, not all falls can be prevented, but at least the impact can be minimized. Many bathrooms have tile flooring, and this is one of the hardest, most uncomfortable types of flooring. However, it’s waterproof, which is what’s required in a bathroom. Fortunately, there are other types of flooring— such as vinyl— that are waterproof and not as hard as tile.
#2: Change Up the Flooring
Speaking of flooring, it’ll be smart to take a look at the flooring throughout the rest of the home. If there’s tile present anywhere else in a high-traffic area, it should be replaced with a softer type of flooring. Thick, high-pile carpet should also be replaced because it can cause trouble for the wheels on wheelchairs and walkers, plus it harbors a lot of indoor pollutants and it’s hard to clean.
Some of the best flooring options for older adults include non-toxic vinyl flooring, linoleum flooring, and low-pile carpet. These types aren’t as hard as tile or hardwood flooring, they’re easy to clean, and they won’t snag on walkers or wheelchairs.
#3: Kitchen Modifications
Kitchen countertops typically stand 34 inches off the ground— a height which isn’t very accessible to all senior citizens. Lowering them by about four inches makes them more accessible, and some may need to be even lower to accommodate those in wheelchairs. Shelves in pantries and closets may also need to be lowered.
With countertops being lowered, the kitchen sink will have to be lowered as well. While you’re at it, consider motion-sensored faucets to reduce reaching distance. Lever-style faucets also work well, as opposed to twist-knob faucets. With that being said, replacing all twist-knob door knobs to lever-style will also reduce strain on the wrists.
#4: Other Considerations
Some senior citizens have full mobility, while others have significantly limited mobility. However, this limited mobility doesn’t mean that an assisted living facility is better for them— it just means that more accommodations have to be made in order for them to live comfortably and safely.
Wheelchair Ramps, Chair Lifts, and Home Elevators
Those who rely on a wheelchair to get around must be able to enter and exit their homes safely. Some homes have steps on the outside, so these will have to be replaced with a ramp— or just simply have a ramp added.
As for stairs on the inside, some senior citizens may have the option to remain on the ground level of their home with no need to go upstairs. However, not everyone has that option. In this case, a chair lift may be installed to help them get up and down the stairs safely, or a residential elevator can be installed instead.
Again, for those in wheelchairs, doorways will need to be widened from their standard 32 inch width. And since you’ll also likely be changing out the door knobs, this would be a great time to look into some new door styles. A universal-style home doesn’t have to be untrendy.
The majority of seniors want to age in place, and this can be due to the horror stories of elder abuse in nursing homes. Those who have been affected by nursing home abuse should contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers and seek justice.
Again, aging in place isn’t for everyone, and assisted living may be the only available option. Eating healthy, exercising, and abstaining from smoking are a few ways to remain healthy as you age, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to successfully age in place.