You can save a fortune by aging in place in your own home, rather than moving into an assisted living facility, but you must evaluate whether your house is appropriate as you grow older. Well-planned modifications can make it possible for you to stay in your house instead of a nursing home. Here are 5 ways to make your house safer and more comfortable as you age.
- Entries, Exits, and Hallways
You should have at least one covered entrance to your home to shelter you from adverse weather. This entry should have no steps. Install motion-sensor lights outside all of your exterior doors. Have bright lighting inside all entries with switches that you can reach as you step inside. You should not walk into a dark room from the outside.
Entry doors should be at least 36 inches wide to allow enough room to navigate safely in a walker or wheelchair. Your doorbell should be in an accessible location.
The flooring in your entry foyer should be non-slip. The entry area should have no loose rugs or other tripping hazards.
Hallways should be at least 36 inches wide. Your halls should be brightly lit and have no tripping hazards. Light switches should be at both ends of every hallway, so you need not walk down a dark hall. Ideally, all thresholds should be flush, but if that is impossible, they should be low and accessible.
- Making Your Kitchen Senior-Friendly
Have enough open space in your kitchen to turn around in a walker or wheelchair. Keep items off of the floor. Move electric cords that could be tripping hazards. Have task lighting and seated work areas. Relocate regularly-used items from upper shelves to lower ones. Have the counter height in line with your needs. Install roll-out trays in base cabinets. Consider open shelving to access items you use often.
- Prevent Bathroom Accidents
At least one bathroom on the first floor should have a shower or tub and enough open floor space to turn around when using a walker or wheelchair. Have someone install grab bars by the toilet and in and around the tub or shower. Use a sturdy shower seat and hand-held shower wand with enough hose to be functional when sitting. The shower and tub must have bright lighting. Your toilet should have armrests and a raised seat. Make sure the flooring in the bathroom and shower are slip-resistant.
- Lighting, Electrical, and Security
Consider getting a video doorbell so you can see when someone comes to your front door. Have someone install high/low peephole viewers in your front door or entry door sidelights that provide security and privacy. Have bright lighting throughout your home and exterior. Make sure that all doors and windows have high-quality locks.
Slippery floors and tripping hazards cause many fall accidents. Remove or secure loose rugs. Relocate electrical and cords out of your walking path. Keep all clutter off of the floor. Clean up spills right away, to avoid slipping. Repair or replace irregular flooring.
This article covers the general law, which can differ from the regulations in your state, so talk with an elder law attorney near you.
National Association of Home Builders. “Aging-In-Place Remodeling Checklist.” (accessed November 15, 2018) https://www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist/related-resources/aging-in-place-remodeling-checklist.aspx