Tips for Aging in Place
The CDC defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”….From Wikipedia
In the following post, Richmond Realtor Diane Andrews provides some great advice for those considering the options for aging in place, either for themselves or their parents.
Look for ‘universal design’ in changes for your home
What is “universal design” in a home? It refers to a house that is safe, attractive and comfortable for people of varying ages and abilities. The different features might include single-floor living, wider doorways, multilevel kitchen counters and easy-to-reach switches and outlets. Incorporating all universal design elements in an older home is probably not practical, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the standard in mind. Many 55+ communities already offer these types of amenities built into their design. If you do not live in a 55+ community, but have an older home with standard design elements, you may need to modify the home by hiring a ‘certified aging in place specialist’ or CAPS certified builder to help you with the changes in your current home.
Bigger, less slippery bathrooms
Space in a bathroom is important, particularly if there needs to be room for a wheelchair or caregiver. A higher toilet (16-18 inches off the ground, instead of the standard 14-15 inches) is easier to use, and grab bars can reduce the risk of falls. Another way to add space to an existing bathroom is to replace the bathtub with a shower. One option is a no-lip shower stall that can accommodate a wheelchair or walker or a design with a shower seat incorporated.
Using GatorGrip “peel and stick” traction mats vs. removable non-skid mats can help avoid slipping in a shower.
Eliminate hazards or move the bedroom downstairs.
To make a home as easy as possible to navigate, consider moving the master bedroom downstairs.
Eliminate hazards such as throw rugs or excess clutter. Install railings on both sides of any stairs or think about having an automatic stair lift installed if moving downstairs is not an option.
Think outside as well as inside
Front walkways pose special hazards, particularly if they have steps. Ramps can be built in some circumstances, but they can detract from the resale value and are not always practical. If the door is three to four feet off the ground, you’d need a 60-foot ramp.”
In some cases, a motorized lift makes more sense. Or, a window at the back of the house can be converted to a door with a ramp leading up to it.
Grab railings on both sides of steps is an easy option if they are not already in place. And, outside grab bars can help when entering a home if there is a manageable step in front of the door.
Find ways to stay in touch
We’re all familiar with the old television commercials for Life Alert, with the famous despairing cry, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Monitoring systems have gotten more sophisticated, no longer requiring any action on the part of the person who needs help.
Also, consider forming relationships with neighbors who can check on you regularly, and seek out transportation alternatives if you can no longer drive.
Local agencies and counties many times have senior advocates that can assist in sending you to the correct place for information.